Commanding a large presence

Former Bears have a distinct presence in Houston this week at the Super Bowl, one in particular.<p>

Ted Washington, who was traded during preseason to New England, caused a stir among writers by actually showing up for an interview session. His reputation for being surly toward the media has not changed since he left the Bears.

"My goal now is to get a Super Bowl ring here and then hopefully re-sign with this team," said the 35-year-old Washington, who is an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Washington still has some bitterness toward his old team over the way he left Chicago. "It's always tough when you get traded and you don't know about it," he said. "At the time I was upset about it because they didn't come directly to me and let me know. They waited until after practice and I found out through my wife and all that kind of stuff.

"I don't think that's the way you do business. So it's over with, the trade is over with, and I'm here."

Washington acknowledged he may have left a huge leadership hole behind when he left the Bears.

"I don't know if it hurt them, but we were close," he said. "For the defensive guys, I was one of their leaders. They listened and looked up to me and that's what the young guys needed.

"At the time, they didn't have a real veteran leader to give them speeches and tell them what it's going to take regardless of what their position was."

Washington thinks the move back to the 3-4 defense and nose tackle in New England helped to revitalize him.

"I hadn't played in a 3-4 since I left Buffalo," he said "In Chicago, they were running a 4-3 for the past two and a half years. Coach Belichick put me back where I belong in a 3-4 scheme. I fit much better in the 3-4 because that's what I've played in my whole career.

"It's probably being head up on a guy and forcing a team to stay with a double team. You really can't do much when you have a guy head up and you have to use an extra body to pick on one guy."

The 370-pound Washington actually revealed the roots of his mistrust of the media. He rarely spoke in Chicago to reporters and New England reporters have said this holds true there.

"There was some stuff said early on in my career in San Francisco and in Buffalo, misquotes and they caused a little stuff between the players and the club," he said. "If you're gonna do that, I don't want any part of the media. Just keep your mouth shut because every team I played for I loved my teammates and never did anything to jeopardize my career or their career. When you get misquoted, I just want no part of it.

"And another thing, all reporters want to talk about is age and weight. I wouldn't be around this long if I was too heavy."

Former Bears punter Todd Sauerbrun and former Bear cornerback Terry Cousin play for the Panthers while former Bears tight end Fred Baxter is a teammate of Washington's.

Sauerbrun rarely has anything positive to say about his Chicago experience. He didn't have a lot to say about his Super Bowl experience, either.

"I really haven't felt the anxiety or whatever you want to call it," he said. "I'm sure within the next couple of days it's going to be different. I want to see. I want to experience all that hoopla but thus far, it really hasn't been anything."

Cousin started out as a rookie under Dave Wannstedt in Chicago.

"I think the way my career has played is the way it was supposed to be," he said. "Being with the Bears was a special time for me. There was a lot of history. I miss the club.

"I had to move on and now it's the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl."


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