Chris Harris smiles as fans sing "Happy Birthday" as he walks to a summer training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on August 6, 2011 in Bourbonnais.
Chris Harris was released from the Bears today after a tumultuous season that included a hamstring injury, getting benched, a trade request, and then starting again. He was in his seventh season in the NFL, four of which were with the Bears. Though Harris led the team in interceptions and was all-Pro last season, he fell out of favor with the Bears brass after Chicago lost to Detroit. In the last year of his contract, Harris requested a trade, but the trade deadline passed without any movement. At that point he said he was going to stick it out in Chicago.
The Bears had other plans.
Harris has long been a fan favorite because of his openness, particularly on Twitter and through his blog. He would engage in conversations with fans about everything from politics and religion to fantasy football. The birth of his son, his frustration with the lockout, and his joy to be playing again were all moments Harris shared with his fans. Bears fans even serenaded him with "Happy Birthday" in Bourbonnais.
He maintained that openness throughout his struggles this season, but maintained a positive outlook. When he wasn't tweeting good luck to the players who had taken over for him, he was congratulating them as they came off the field after a big play. He took to Twitter again this morning when the bad news hit:
I was just released this morning by the Bears. Thank u for the opp to play football n do what I luv. I'm looking toward my next venture ... This Business known as the #NFL is a strange one. Chicago I want to thank u for all the luv u have shown me over the yrs. u will b missed.
That openness always made it feel like Harris was not some larger-than-life football player, but a friend. So we say goodbye, Chris. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself with Bears fans.
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