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Stealth attack helped Bears, Phil Emery snare prize free agent Jared Allen
If Phil Emery were in charge of the Blackhawks, we might not even know Jonathan Toews was injured — that’s how guarded Emery is about privacy in team matters.
Sometimes it seems like Emery is over-protective of information, but in the case of Jared Allen it might have made the difference between signing the five-time Pro Bowl defense end and not signing him.
‘‘The fact that we were able to do this quietly removed the counter [proposal] per se,’’ Emery said at an undisclosed location — OK, Halas Hall — on Monday. ‘‘We were able to get it. Jared felt that we were the right fit and we were going to continue through without getting out in the papers and allowing others to advance in terms of countering during the [negotiations]. It certainly helps.’’
The Bears kept a low profile until after Allen had visited the Seattle Seahawks last week.
‘‘It was a little bit right out of a movie. It was very quiet,’’ Emery said. ‘‘Ken Harris [Allen's agent] came to the hotel at the owners’ meeting [in Orlando]. We knew to have it remain silent we couldn’t have anybody see us meet or shake hand, so we met at at night away from the hotel.
‘‘But Ken had some to meet us and we were standing out facing the parking lot and John Clayton [the ESPN reporter] walked to Cliff Stein and shook his hand. Fortunately, John’s back was to Ken walking up to say ‘Hi’ to me. I grabbed Ken. I pulled him around and put him behind a post. And then John walked off. So John was surprised along with everybody else because no one saw Ken and we did that off campus.’’
Even Allen seemed amused by the way the Bears operated in a stealth manner. The agreement with the Bears caught the entire league by surprise.
‘‘They sniped me. It was awesome,’’ Allen said. ‘‘The whole way it happened was just so cool how they laid low and got it done in the end. I appreciate how hard and how diligent everybody worked on the contract. I know both sides pushed through some issues and gave a little. That’s what I was looking for — they got creative on things to make it work, both sides.’’
At one point it was reported by ESPN’s Ed Werder that Allen had ‘‘agreed to sign with the Seattle Seahawks and is in the process of finalizing a contract.’’ But Allen implied that was not the case.
‘‘Let me tell you, there’s been a lot of wrong reporting out of this free agency for myself,’’ Allen said. ‘‘At one point I got calls from my friends in Chicago that said I was here on a visit and already signed and we hadn’t even talked. There was a report I signed in Seattle.
‘‘Through this whole process I’ve told everybody I’m going to be meticulous about it. Obviously I wanted to end up in the right situation. I was going to make sure it wa sa good situation for myself, for my career. I was going to make a rash decision.
‘‘I spent a lot of time in prayer and talking with people around me to make sure the right fit happened. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason and this deal came together at the last minute — it was super cool how it came together because nobody knew what was happening. Heck, I didn’t even know half the time what was happening. It came together so fast and all the pieces fell into line.’’
Allen and Emery credited Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker for doing a big part of the selling job — that convinced Allen he would be a good fit for the Bears defense. Allen had a chance to play for the No. 1 defense in the league with the Seahawks. But the Bears offered a role that was more to his liking. And Allen bought in.
‘‘I just knew it was the right fit,’’ Allen said. ‘‘Seattle — great organization. I had great visits and there were a lot of great talks throughout free agency. But I’m [in Chicago] for a reason. After talking to the coaches — and this is what I told my agent and relayed to Phil and Cliff [Stein, the Bears' negotiator]: it’s not just them interviewing me. It’s about me fitting in here.
‘‘When I talked to coach Tucker, when I knew they brought in coach P [defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni], and speaking with people about coach Trestman, understanding the types of people they were and understanding what I was looking for … I’ve always liked Chicago. I’ve got family here. It all kind of fell in line at the right time, right place, the deal got done. It ended up working out perfectly for me.’’