16-time Bears cut survivor Patrick Mannelly has seen ’em go
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter August 31, 2013 12:58AM
Patrick Mannelly’s 16 survived cuts is the most in Bears history. | Sun-Times Library
Updated: October 2, 2013 6:45AM
They almost always leave this way, the guys named A.J., B.J., J.J., K.J., P.J. and T.J.
The nine Marks, two Marcs and, yes, even a Marq.
Seven hundred twenty Bears have been waived, released or terminated — from Al Afalava to Tom Zbikowski — during Patrick Mannelly’s Bears career.
That’s enough to stock 13 NFL rosters.
‘‘It’s tough to see them go,’’ the long snapper said this week. ‘‘But you almost become numb to it because you see it so often.’’
The 38-year-old made the cut again this week — a Bears-record 16th straight time — but still has a healthy respect for the most brutal few days in the NFL.
‘‘It’s a tough day, but it’s a nice day for you if you’ve made it,’’ Mannelly, who has spent more than year and a half of his life in training camps, said this week. ‘‘You’ve also got to take the perspective that one day you’re going to be that guy, no matter who you are.’’
The Duke graduate — who once interned on Wall Street — knows the math. The last seven days, NFL teams have cut their rosters from 90 to 53. That’s 1,184 dreams deferred, not counting practice-squad bounce-backs.
‘‘It’s going to come to an end someday,” said Mannelly, who signed a one-year extension in December. ‘‘You start worrying as you get older. You get more expensive. You almost take it snap by snap.
‘‘As long as you’re doing well with that, you feel comfortable being a good teammate and doing your job well, you have a good chance of being around.’’
Coach Marc Trestman said the Bears ‘‘sleep better at night’’ with Mannelly on the roster.
‘‘Besides the class and the character that he brings to our locker room, obviously he has a skill level that has allowed him to play a long time in the league,” Trestman said. ‘‘He’s been one of the best in the league doing it for a long time.’’
Like Mannelly, Pro Bowl kicker Robbie Gould doesn’t take making the roster for granted.
‘‘The time you get comfortable,’’ he said, ‘‘is the time you’re gonna get cut.’’
Gould called the final cut ‘‘the worst day in football,’’ though he hasn’t been waived since the Baltimore Ravens did it midseason in 2005.
‘‘It’s not a game,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a business within a game.’’
The latest collective-bargaining agreement favors younger, cheaper players, Gould said.
‘‘You don’t see a lot of the middle-income older players making the roster,’’ said Gould, who’s starting his ninth Bears season and whose contract runs through this season. ‘‘It’s unfortunate.
‘‘I think we’re all at some point in time going to get cut or released or retire. It’s just a matter of when.”
Mannelly defines a veteran as anyone with seven years of experience — ‘‘When you’ve been around that many games, you learn a lot,’’ he said — and the Bears have 18 players who fit the description.
Mannelly, though, is the dean.
He gives advice to younger players every year — where to live, where to eat and, sometimes, what do to when they get cut.
‘‘The biggest thing is, if you’re here, you worked hard to get here,’’ he tells them. ‘‘You take the good traits you used to get here and you equate that to life scenarios or different job scenarios.
‘‘If you work hard and smile and keep a good attitude, you’ll be OK.’’
Over 16 seasons, making the cut never gets old.
But watching friends leave never gets easy, either.
‘‘It’s still the same thing,’’ he said, wincing. ‘‘It’s still a guy getting released.’’