June 30, 2012
Greg Olsen left Chicago kicking and screaming last summer when former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz apparently expedited his trade to the Panthers because the pass-catching tight end did not fit into his system.
So it is natural for Olsen to wonder what might have been if he still were a member of the Bears because Mike Tice has taken over for Martz.
"I follow NFL news across the board, but obviously the Bears," Olsen told me via phone Thursday from Charlotte, N.C. "Tice is really good. I was always a fan of his and he was a supporter of mine that first year we worked together. He will be good for them. We were good when I was there and (the Bears) are going to continue to be good."
Initially, being traded for a third-round pick in the 2012 draft was disappointing for Olsen, a first-round pick of the Bears out of Miami in 2007.
"There is no doubt I was a little taken back," Olsen said. "It was something the previous offseason we went through with all of those rumors about being traded.
"All of that kind of was put to rest, and I had a good season and the (2010 NFC North) championship season went well. Then, just abruptly at training camp, you are traded. It was just the way it all went down.
"But once I got settled (in Charlotte) with my family (including wife Kara and son Tate), we realized that, hey, this has been a great move for us professionally and personally. It has really worked out well. The guys on the team are great."
The Panthers, coached by former Bears linebacker and defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, visit the Bears on Oct. 28.
"(Rivera) has been a great guy to play for and the kind of guy that you want to do well for," Olsen said. "It is a very positive environment to be a part of."
The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Olsen caught 45 passes for 540 yards and five touchdowns last season from Panthers rookie sensation Cam Newton.
With Tice, the tight end position for the Bears figures to be a greater point of emphasis in terms of offensive weaponry. Olsen insists he gets a bad rap when it comes to his blocking ability.
"It was kind of a punch line that came out because of the tag on guys coming out of Miami, that we were just part of the era of pass-catching tight ends coming into the league," Olsen said. "(But you can't) play five years (in the NFL) and play almost every snap if you can't do everything. And that's something I take a lot of pride in."
The only kicking and screaming Olsen wants to hear this weekend in Chicago will be at his annual Kicks for a Cure charity kickball tournament at Grant Park (http://kicksforacure.mytmc.com/). Olsen's concern about cancer research was fueled when his mother, Susan, was battling breast cancer while he was in high school. She is a 10-year survivor.
"Saturday is our big event. It is the world's largest charitable kickball tournament," Olsen said. "We have 67 teams entered and there will be between 1,500 to 2,000 people at Grant Park to enjoy food and a beer garden and an all-day kickball tournament."
Spectator day passes are available for $50, which includes entrance into the event, food and beverage for the day and access to the exclusive after party at Joe's on Weed.
It is obvious Olsen's love for the city of Chicago is boundless.
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