After a difficult start to the 2015 season, the Chicago Bears have shown some signs of improvement on the field in recent weeks.
And the Soldier Field franchise could do without any off-field distractions if they are to have any hope of stabilizing a campaign that is still under threat of being over before November.
So, dramatic events over the past 24 hours at their practice facility - events that began with a "heated exchange" and ended with a police presence and the release of a 10-year NFL veteran - are far from ideal.
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The Bears confirmed in a press release this afternoon that they have cut veteran lineman Jeremiah Ratliff. It is the events that led to his exit from the franchise, though, that have drawn headlines.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Ratliff arrived at Chicago's Halas Hall facility yesterday "in no condition to practice", and from there a public argument took place between the player and team staff.
It is unclear just what unfit state the former Pro Bowler was in, but reports have revealed that franchise general manager Ryan Pace was his verbal sparring partner as Ratliff remonstrated on the long driveway that runs through the facility.
There were clearly concerns over the way Ratliff was acting too, with both Bears security staff and Lake Forest police called to assist in removing him from the premises.
End of the line
Pace, via an official statement, avoided mentioning the incident when confirming the 34-year-old's release today:
“We felt moving forward without Jeremiah was in the best interest of our team,” said Pace.
“We appreciate his contributions and wish him well. We are also excited to be able to add Ziggy Hood to our roster.”
Ratliff, despite being a strong presence in the Chicago locker room since arriving at the team in 2013, has had previous when it comes to erratic and aggressive behavior at the Bears.
He was suspended for the first three games of this season in relation to a 2013 DWI incident and had a full blown public argument with a teammate back in December.
Bears fans: Is it right to release Ratliff? Have your say in the comments below...
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