Harris: 'I'm thankful for this whole experience'

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Chicago defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who returned this week from a one-game team suspension, spoke Wednesday with members of the Chicago media. He said he has recaptured his spirituality and recognizes he didn't play the first three games of the season up to his own standards.

The Bears reportedly suspended Harris for missing a rehabilitation assignment. He has said he was struggling to deal with the birth of a child out of wedlock.

Here's a transcript of the interview, courtesy of chicagobears.com:

How does it feel to be back with your teammates?

Tommie Harris: It feels great. You never know how much you miss something until it's taken away from you. It feels great. I've apologized to my teammates and apologized to my fans, and I'm just getting everything together and getting ready for a strong season.

Do you feel like you'll be ready to play this week?

TH: Yeah, I'm practicing, so I feel like I'll be ready.

What did you learn from the entire experience?

TH: Just appreciate what you have, and don't let it get to that. I'm just looking forward to playing the Falcons and being with my team and just finishing strong.

Will you talk about what happened?

TH: No, that situation's over with. It's happened. I don't think anything would be improved by me going back [over] what happened. I've forgiven myself for it and I think that's all that matters in the end. I'm just looking forward from here and getting better.

At the time, did you know that you were making a mistake that could lead to a suspension?

TH: Yeah, I did. At the time, I did. But sometimes in life you just deal with so many different things. They come at you at one time and it gets hard to handle. But I just thank God, man. I'm thankful for this whole experience. It showed me how much I really appreciate what I do. I'm just looking forward to getting back out there with my teammates.

Are you confident something like this won't happen again?

TH: I'm very confident. I'm relying on Jesus now and I think that's something that I took out of my life, or I was going back and forth from my relationship with Christ and I know that's No. 1 in my life. If that is not right with me, then nothing's going to be right; on the field, off the field, regardless. I feel like that's something I'm working on and I'll just continue to get better.

How have your teammates treated you?

TH: They supported me a lot, and just talking to different ones, they helped out a lot. The main thing I learned from it is that you have to have a balance between the two. You have to deal with the personal and the business, and that's what I'm learning and I'm thankful for the experience that I went through.

Did it take something like this to realize how much you missed football?

TH: No, it didn't take anything like that. I'm just appreciative of the game that I play and the opportunity that I have while I play this game and the platform that is given to me to be an example. I'm just appreciative of it and just looking forward to getting back out there with my team.

With the contract you have, should you be held to a higher standard?

TH: I don't believe that money should make it different. But I believe because of the talent that I have, you should be. That's what happened, and I feel like it's all said and done and it's over with and I'll move on.

How's your knee feeling?

TH: I'm pushing through it, and once again I'm just believing in God and just relying on Him in a whole different aspect and just looking forward to finishing strong.

Will you be able to play at a Pro Bowl level this year?

TH: I'm just believing in God, relying on God and we'll see how it goes. He's in me. That's what I didn't have. But He's back. So we'll see from there.

Do you plan on playing Sunday in Atlanta?

TH: Ask coach [Lovie] Smith. That's who makes the decisions. I just go out there. I practiced today. I feel good. So we'll see how it goes from there.

Before the suspension, were you playing at an acceptable level?

TH: I was playing at an acceptable level to some, but not to myself and I think that's all that matters.

Did physical limitations with your knee lead to your frustration?

TH: No, it's vice versa. I think spiritually, that's what led to all that. My conviction is terrible. I carry a lot of stuff. I carry a lot of stress, different things that I know I shouldn't. That's what happens when you disconnect with your source and I feel like I'm going back to what's worked for me since the beginning. That's where I'm at. I look forward to seeing you guys Sunday. Just pray for me. Don't talk about me. Just pray for me. Trust me, it works.