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Former Bears exec Tim Ruskell will be sitting this draft out

TAMPA FL - OCTOBER 19: President Tim Ruskell Seattle Seahawks watches warmups before play against TampBay Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 19: President Tim Ruskell of the Seattle Seahawks watches warmups before play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 19, 2008 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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Updated: May 21, 2012 8:46AM

Tim Ruskell can’t fight the guilt, with the NFL draft a week away.

Relieved of his duties as Bears player personnel director on Jan. 30, Ruskell has focused on his family and stayed abreast of NFL news, since he hopes to land another job.

“To not have that big knot in your stomach during Easter weekend is different but not bad different,” Ruskell said. “I know what they’re going through, the organized chaos.

“But I enjoyed that. If you don’t enjoy that part, as a personnel man, you’re probably in the wrong profession.”

Ruskell was largely kept in the background in his two seasons with the Bears, after longtime friend Jerry Angelo hired him months after he resigned as president of football operations for the Seattle Seahawks in December 2009.

Ruskell, who worked closely with the former Bears general manager in Tampa, where they helped build the Buccaneers into a Super Bowl champion, was thrilled to work at Halas Hall. Many speculated that Angelo was handpicking his successor in Ruskell, but Ruskell said that wasn’t ever mentioned to him.

“Jerry saw a fit for me with his staff,” Ruskell said. “He wasn’t talking about retiring, at all.”

The Bears rallied and reached the NFC title game in Ruskell’s first season, and the Bears had — by numerous accounts — a solid run in the NFL draft a year ago.

“That draft class will ultimately be judged to be a good one,” Ruskell said, referring to a group that included Gabe Carimi, Stephen Paea and Chris Conte.

The Bears got off to a 7-3 start in 2011, but quarterback Jay Cutler broke his finger.

“We lost our quarterback,” Ruskell said, “and, for most team, that usually spells disaster.

“That certainly was the case for us. We didn’t make it to the playoffs, but we didn’t see it as a crisis situation, or one that signaled an overhaul.”

So, just like Angelo, Ruskell was shocked when he returned from the East-West Shrine game, and he was informed that Angelo had been fired.

“I felt a little nervous about that, seeing that Jerry had hired me,” he said. “I knew that was going to be problematic.”

Bears president Ted Phillips told Ruskell that he would be interviewed for the general manager vacancy but that the team was inclined to hire someone else.

Ruskell wasn’t one of the two finalists. Then, after the Bears hired Phil Emery, Phillips told Ruskell it would be awkward for him to stay.

The Bears honored the remainder of Ruskell’s contract.

Ruskell continues to stay in touch with Angelo, who apparently has no interest in retiring.

“Jerry is such a positive guy. He’s in a good mind-set. He’s moving forward, and getting on with things,” Ruskell said. “He’s doing good, not in the retiring mode, that’s for sure.

“He’s been a tireless worker all his life. It’s hard to just sit on the porch, in a rocker. So nobody is thinking that way. We both have passion for this.”

Ruskell has provided his draft insight to a few outlets, including the NFL Network. But he knows he probably will have to wait until after the 2012 season ends before he gets some job opportunities.

“I’ll be working again. But the NFL cycle, in my position, is late ­December and January, to see if there is something happening.

“But I had been through 25 ­seasons in a row so it’s probably a good time for a break.”

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