What if the reason the Bears didnt find out that Sam Hurd was a drug figure of note was becausehe wasnt?
The knives didnt take long to come out for GM Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith after the Hurd case popped on Thursday. Nothing was really known beyond information contained in the federal complaint detailing Hurd activities that generally commenced in late July, but critics were declaring that there were ample indicators that the Bears should have picked up on.
An interesting rush to judgment. If you dont like Angelo or Smith, especially after a three-game losing streak, it's easy to drill them, facts optional. (If you dont think there is agenda journalism, youre not playing close enough attention. But thats getting off point here).
I had a long chat on Friday with Mike Florio over at ProFootballTalk.coms PFT Live! Mike, an attorney himself, had some seriously interesting perspectives that start with some basic common sense, which is the first thing to go in hysteria reactions.
The fact that, in the 24 hours-plus since the story broke, no one is reporting anything about the scope or breadth of the operation suggests that there was no operation, Mike wrote.
Heres the overall:
If Hurd was an operation before July, when the Bears signed him, no one in the Bears, Cowboys, NFL or government appears to have known it.
If he wasnt an operation, what exactly were Angelo, Smith and the Bears supposed to have known?
Once Hurd became or was aspiring to operation status, since July, what were the Bears supposed to have done if in fact details of a covert operation were shared with them?
More on that in a bit.
Mike and my mutual conclusion, based on the complaint and other considerations, was that the real indications are that Hurd wasnt a drug kingpin at all, but that he wanted to become one and was taking his first big steps toward it (http:tinyurl.com77sahy2).
Which doesnt exonerate Hurd of even a shred of his alleged actions. It does, however, point in a different direction with respect to the Bears.
Some points of perspective
Big time? How big?
One thing that jumped out at us immediately was the clumsiness with which Hurd handled the situation of the 88,000 found in a vehicle registered to him and driven by an apparent associate, who said the money belonged to Hurd.
As I recounted to Mike, a longtime friend working for an airline told me of how a mule carrying money for a suspected drug operation very calmly denied that a briefcase containing 125,000 in cash even belonged to him. He just walked away from it when authorities opened it and questioned him.
If Hurd was Pablo Escobar, he walks away from the car and the money.
According to the complaint, Hurd was talking to undercover officers about the massive amounts of cocaine and marijuana that he would need. He wasnt already doing business at those levels; he had huge plans but he wasnt there yet, albeit because his supplier couldnt get him what he needed.
Hurd clearly was wanting to take a big step, based on the federal complaint. But every sign so far says he hadnt taken it by the time the Bears signed him. And if there were earlier steps, they hadnt tripped any bells in Texas or Illinois.
Telling the Bears?
The Feds appear to have been onto Hurd for some time, based on information in the complaint. The Bears have former FBI and police officers comprising most of their security staff, including Director of Security and Safety Services Tom Dillon, a former SWAT team member.
Dillon and NFL security people have contacts and sources. The only available information right now says that the law was tracking Hurd since July since he became a Bear, not before by more than a day or two.
Should the authorities have given the Bears information on a covertsting operation? Not if they want it to remain covert. If the Bears, whod already made their deal with Hurd, were tipped off, should they cut Hurd immediately? And alert him in the process that something big was up? A difficult spot to be in, even if officials had apprised the Bears of what was being done, which we clearly dont know at this point.
So, should the Bears
Hurd does not appear to have been enough of a drug player to have registered on federal or NFL radar in Dallas, where he was for the last five years. Five years.
Maybe the lockout and the fact that the Cowboys werent bringing him back moved Hurd to start thinking about life, such as this would have been, after football.
Whatever, there is nothing to indicate that Angelo was lying Friday when he said, there was nothing we found that would create a flag or alert or real concern in Sam Hurds case.
Best evidence is that Hurd was still not a big player when the Bears signed him. As far as him being even a fringe drug player, Dallas didnt know; the NFL didnt know; the Bears didnt know. If someone has more than just opinion that they did or should have, trot it out.
After they signed him, Hurd still wasnt a player. And whatever he was, as I mentioned before, the nature of the investigation sets this outside the parameters of a simple background character check.
Throw in a lockout that put more than a few limits on information flow for teams and players, and you have an interesting environment.
Mike made one more point: In the day-plus thats gone by since this first broke, nothing really notable has been added. One report was that a double-digit list of involved players was out there, but that was shot down subsequently.
Knocking Angelo, Smith or the Bears for not having a better backup quarterback is one thing. Bashing them for not knowing about a drug situation with what is known at this point something else altogether.