Long-snapper Pat Mannelly came to the Bears in the 1998 draft (along with Olin Kreutz, Tony Parrish and Curtis Enis), moving into his locker space in just the second year the new Halas Hall was open. This offseason, because he is unsigned as a free agent, rehabbing from offseason hip surgery, he was required to be moved out of the only football “home” he’s ever had.
"It's weird not going to Halas Hall,” Mannelly said on Tuesday before he became the recipient of the team’s prestigious Ed Block Courage Award. “I'm going to train at a different place now, and not pulling up in the same parking lot and seeing the same faces is an odd feeling but it is what it is."
Mannelly, 39, and general manager Phil Emery have talked and have what Mannelly called a “good relationship.” But if that doesn’t translate into another contract for Mannelly (he has had four in his Bears tenure), then Mannelly is prepared to call it a career.
The prospect of playing for another team just doesn’t work for Mannelly, who effectively ruled that out on Tuesday.
“I would think so,” Mannelly said. “It would be tough to put on another helmet for another team.”
The Bears signed long-snapper Chad Rempel this week, bringing in a veteran who played for coach Marc Trestman in the CFL. They signed Rempel to a three-year contract, a possible statement in itself during a time in which one-year deals are common for veterans.
For Mannelly, however, the Rempel signing just made sense.
"Smart move,” Mannelly said. “I think Phil Emery should do that. I'll be 39 this year and don't know if I'll be back. They need to take care of their roster."
That roster could yet include Mannelly, one of the all-time greats at a specialty not usually appreciated until the job is performed poorly. He is three months into an expected rehab stint of 4-6 months, which would allow him to come back for the Bears’ offseason workouts. If he is re-signed.
"As athletes you think you can always play forever,” Mannelly said. “Luckily I've played a long time and I really want to listen to my body and see what happens. You want to play forever, your heart says you can play forever, your mind says you can play forever, but we'll see."