Bears General Manager Phil Emery believes secrecy is the best policy when it comes to contracts. So, at last week's NFL Owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., he went to great lengths to keep a meeting with Jared Allen's agent a clandestine arrangement.
Pockets of NFL agents and reporters gathered inside the hotel lobby as Emery and Bears contract negotiator Cliff Stein went outside to meet Allen's agent, Ken Harris, by the valet stand.
The three men shook hands when suddenly ESPN NFL reporter John Clayton sauntered up to the building. He shook Stein's hand, as Phil Emery turned his back and grabbed Harris by the arm to hide him behind a pole. It worked. Clayton never saw him and the Bears brass were able to escape to present their offer to bring the five-time Pro Bowler to Chicago.
Why the secrecy? Imagine if the Bears swung and missed on Allen and everyone knew it. The publicity would be terrible, and Bear fans would be outraged.
"They sniped me!" Allen laughed Monday, comparing it to a hunter lying low in the brush before making one sweeping move. "The whole way it happened was so cool" Allen smiled.
There were a lot of reports that Allen was close to signing with the Seahawks, but in the end, he did what was best for his family.
His wife, Amy, is from Arlington Heights. Allen even got married in downtown Chicago and that weekend threw out the first pitch at a Cubs game, where he was promptly booed by the loyal Bear fans at Wrigley Field.
"Good one!" Allen said explaining he never was a big fan of big cities but always felt at home in Chicago. It's a place "I could stay for more than a day."
The Bears signed Allen for 1,460 days, a four-year deal that reportedly voids to three years.
Allen has had many sacks against the Bears but has never won at Soldier Field and thinks the team is putting all the pieces in place, mentioning Jay Ratliff inside, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings as well. "I'm just a piece -- I don't want to be THE piece" Allen explained.
On April 3 Allen turns 32 years old and says he has a lot left in him.
"My play speaks for itself," he said. "The way I finished the year spoke loud and clear."
And with that Allen clicked his yellow ostrich boots, pulled up his Wrangler jeans and asked "how old is Pat Mannelly? Isn't he like 40?"
Not quite, but point well taken.