Olin Kreutz is one of the most beloved and well-respected Chicago Bears in recent memory. An All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler, Kreutz was a perennial fan favorite and a four-time winner of the Piccolo Award, named after the late running back Brian Piccolo.
The award is given to one rookie and one veteran each year “who best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Bears running back,” per the Bears’ official website.
Considering how well-respected Kreutz is, it was surprising to hear Bears Chairman George McCaskey essentially call him a liar.
It all started when Kreutz publicly discussed an offer he received from the Bears. The former center recently recounted the time in 2018 when then-offensive line coach Harry Hiestand offered him $15 an hour to help out with the offensive line. When he was asked specifically about the offer to Kreutz during his annual year-end press conference, McCaskey denied it and suggested Kreutz wasn’t being forthright.
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McCaskey Accuses Kreutz of Lying
“I’ve learned over the years to take just about anything that Olin says with a grain of salt,” McCaskey said on January 10, when asked about Kreutz’s comments. “And I look forward to hearing that story again. I hope he includes it in his Hall of Fame induction speech.”
When asked if he was saying Kreutz was lying about it, McCaskey responded:
“That’s the way it is sometimes with Olin. You don’t get the whole story. Olin knows what the story is.”
Kreutz responded immediately on Twitter before going on Chicago’s 670 The Score to talk about it further.
Kreutz Has Strong Response
‘I’m not surprised,” Kreutz said on The Parkins & Spiegel Show on January 10.
“I’ve had some run-ins with George, to be honest, in the building, when he was in charge of the ticket office. I remember a young linebacker, I won’t mention his name, had his shirt off at the ticket office window, and George started yelling at him and (then) me and George started yelling at each other, so I understand that George doesn’t like me. … He hasn’t talked to me since I left the building in 2010 or 2011. Played 190 games for that team was their team captain for eight or nine years, won four or five Piccolo Awards while in the building.”
Kreutz then said after he heard McCaskey slander him during the press conference, he called both Hiestand and recently-fired ex-Bears GM Ryan Pace to confirm the details.
I immediately, because, I’m thinking to myself: ‘Maybe I got the story wrong,’ so I call Harry Hiestand, and he confirms the story to me, and I called Ryan Pace, and I talked to Ryan Pace about it, because that’s what guys do, right? Guys who are leaders, guys who are in charge, guys who are worried about their character, they call people and actually talk to them. What George McCaskey should have said right there — because maybe the story didn’t get to him — what he should have said is: ‘Maybe I need to talk to Harry and Ryan about what happened with Olin. Maybe this was a misunderstanding.’
Kreutz said Pace confirmed the offer made in 2018, calling it a “standard offer,” and that McCaskey hadn’t known about it. “George didn’t know about it, but instead of asking people and finding the story out, (he) called me a liar,” Kreutz said.
“I wouldn’t say that I hate them” Kreutz said about the McCaskey family. “If I saw George McCaskey right now, we would have a few passionate conversations. … If that man would have said that to my face, we would’ve had a problem.”
Hiestand Confirms Kreutz’s Side of Story
“You don’t ever want to feel like: ‘Man, I hate these guys that I spent so many years with, played football for.’ They gave me a lot of fair contracts. I was the highest-paid center in the league for a lot of years, which means the Chicago Bears were paying me a lot of money to play football for their team,” Kreutz added.
Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune spoke to Hiestand, who served as Bears’ OC from 2018-19, and he confirmed everything Kreutz said.
“Hiestand told the Tribune he had a written proposal from Pace with loose details of what tasks Kreutz would perform, which he presented to Kreutz at a Lake Forest hotel. The offer was for $15 an hour,” Biggs reported on January 10.
Hiestand was also quick to defend Kreutz’s character, as were several of his former Bears teammates.
McCaskey generally speaks once a year, and considering the outcome each time, he may be better off not speaking at all.