Bears legend Steve McMichael hospitalized, family says

CHICAGO — Legendary Bears defensive tackle Steve McMichael, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2021, was hospitalized Thursday, according to a statement from his family.

 

The family initially brought McMichael to the hospital with what they thought was pneumonia, but later said he is being treated for a urinary tract infection and would be admitted to the intensive care unit Thursday night.

 

“Continued prayers are appreciated for Steve’s speedy recovery,” the McMichael family said in its statement.

 

McMichael, who was formally announced as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024 during last week’s NFL Honors awards show, was hospitalized in August with pneumonia and sepsis.

 

 

McMichael, 66, played in 207 consecutive games from 1981 to 1994 and spent 13 seasons with Chicago. A five-time All-Pro defensive tackle, he was a key member of the Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl XX team and ranks second in franchise history in sacks and third in tackles.

 

McMichael’s wife, Misty, openly campaigned for him to be included in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after he was previously nominated and made it past the first cut of candidates in 2014 and 2015, only to fall short. McMichael was one of 12 senior semifinalists for the 2024 class and informed Jan. 24 by Richard Dent, his former Bears teammate and Hall of Fame member, that he had earned his spot in Canton.

 

Misty McMichael represented her husband in Las Vegas during last Thursday’s announcement alongside fellow former Bears Devin Hester and Julius Peppers, both of whom are part of the 2024 class. The Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony is set for Aug. 3 in Canton.

 

 Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, who has $12.7 million on his contract that is set to become fully guaranteed Friday, was informed Thursday that he will remain on Seattle’s roster through this week, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

 

Smith’s contract calls for his $12.7 million base salary for next season to become fully guaranteed Friday provided he’s still on the roster. That money was guaranteed for injury only at the time Smith signed his three-year, $75 million deal last March.

 

 

Smith is now assured of collecting that $12.7 million, though he isn’t necessarily assured of remaining with Seattle next season as the Seahawks could trade him before March 18.

 

Smith also has a $9.6 million roster bonus due on March 18 as well as a $200,000 workout bonus. The $22.5 million he’s set to make in 2024 ranks 18th among quarterbacks, according to Spotrac.com. Smith’s $31.2 million cap charge for next season ranks 12th among quarterbacks, according to OverTheCap.com.

 

The Seahawks believed that, with salaries soaring for starting quarterbacks in today’s market, the right decision was to guarantee Smith’s $12.7 million, sources told Schefter. Now Smith will represent a value to them — or any other team that decides to reach out to see if it can acquire Smith via trade.

 

Smith made the Pro Bowl and won NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2022 in his first season as Seattle’s full-time starter after spending most of the previous seven seasons as a backup. He threw an NFL record seven go-ahead touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and overtime in 2023 and posted the league’s best Total QBR over the final six weeks. But his numbers dipped across the board this past season, including 10 fewer touchdown passes (he also threw two fewer interceptions).

 

Smith finished seventh in Total QBR in 2002 and 14th this past season, making the Pro Bowl this month as an injury replacement.

 

Smith’s future with the Seahawks has seemed uncertain after his up-and-down season and the recent shakeup in Seattle’s power structure. Mike Macdonald replaced Pete Carroll as coach while general manager John Schneider was given final say on personnel matters, which used to belong to Carroll.

 

Neither Schneider nor Macdonald have made public comments committing to Smith as Seattle’s starter in 2024. In his introductory news conference this month, Macdonald called Smith a “really good player” but seemed to allude to his uncertain future by saying, “we’ll see how the whole situation shakes out over time.”

 

 

Whitehair and Jackson, who were drafted by Chicago’s previous front office, were the Bears’ longest-tenured players on their respective sides of the ball. The moves save Chicago an estimated $21.5 million against the 2024 salary cap.

 

Upon the releases of Whitehair and Jackson, the Bears no longer have any draft picks made before 2020 on the roster.

 

Whitehair later posted his thanks to the Bears organization and fans on his social media pages.

 

Whitehair, 31, was drafted by Chicago in the second round in 2016 and appeared in 124 games over eight seasons with 118 starts. The versatile interior lineman played his first three NFL seasons at center before splitting starts at left guard 2019-20. Whitehair moved to guard full time for the 2021-22 seasons and was slated to move back to center in 2023 before an injury to Teven Jenkins shuffled Whitehair back to left guard for the first five weeks.

 

Once he moved back to center in Week 6, Whitehair was benched after several errant snaps and concluded the 2023 season with 11 starts. This was the first season in which he did not start every game he played.

 

 

Jackson, a fourth-round selection in 2017, started all 100 games he appeared in over seven seasons with Chicago. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and earned All-Pro honors in 2018 on the Bears defense that carried Chicago to its last NFC North championship. A foot injury shortened each of the safety’s past three seasons, and his $18.1 million cap hit was the third-highest on the Bears roster.

 

Jackson, 30, totaled 15 interceptions, 44 passes defended, 10 forced fumbles and 459 tackles in his career. He is tied for third in franchise history with six career defensive touchdowns, five of which came in his first two seasons.

 

After a two-season drought without an interception (2020-21), Jackson moved from strong safety back to free safety after Chicago drafted Jaquan Brisker in 2022. During his bounce-back season in 2022, Jackson led the Bears with four interceptions in 12 games and became a defensive leader after Chicago traded linebacker Roquan Smith and defensive end Robert Quinn.

 

Last season, Jackson had an interception and 37 tackles in 12 games.

 

“I know [Jackson was] dinged up a little bit there, but I thought where his impact is really with Brisker and the communication on the back end,” general manager Ryan Poles said when asked to evaluate Jackson’s 2023 season. “When Eddie was in, you could tell Brisker felt really, really comfortable. Really that whole group, he really impacts the communication, and you could see that.”

 

 

Gideon Canice

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