Center of Attention

Lake Forest - Don't tell Bears five-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz that Sunday's game against the Vikings at the Metrodome is meaningless.

It makes no difference to the Bears' playoff status, since they're locked in as the NFC's No. 2 seed, but it matters to Kreutz, who's been called out by the Vikings' Pat Williams, a no-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle.

"Kreutz, he ain't nothing but a joke," Williams said. "He's been a joke since he came in the league. I've never respected the guy."

Kreutz missed practice Wednesday and is questionable with a sprained ankle, so normally he'd be a likely candidate to sit out Sunday's regular-season final, but he might have to be chained to his locker to keep him off the field.

"It means a lot to me to play in this game because of the things he said about me," Kreutz said. "I want to go out there and play against him. Every time you compete against NFL players you know you better bring your best or you'll get beat up a little bit."

Kreutz admitted that Williams had a good game against him in the Bears' 28-3 victory at Soldier Field on Oct. 16, but he didn't know what he did to incur the wrath of the 6-foot-3, 317-pound nine-year veteran.

"I must have made him mad," the 6-foot-2, 292-pound Kreutz said. "I stole his cheeseburger or something. I was surprised. I kind of laughed. I enjoy when people hate me. That makes me happy, so he's made my whole week."

Bears players didn't have any derogatory comments about the Vikings in the wake of their lewd behavior on a couple party boats on Lake Minnetonka earlier in the season, and almost all NFL players abide by a code that discourages bad-mouthing opponents in public, especially when it comes to personal attacks.

"I've never heard of it, but everybody floats their boat a different way," Kreutz said. "I don't talk about other players, and I never will unless they talk about me. If they talk about me, I'm not going to just sit there quiet. But I'm not going to talk about this too much more. We'll see each other Sunday. There's no sense talking. That's the great thing about football, you get to solve it on the field. It's not like we just talk and hide from each other. We have to face each other."

Williams and his agent, Angelo Wright, have also accused Kreutz of conspiring to keep the Vikings' run-stuffer out of the Pro Bowl since his negative comments were first published early last month. They allege that Kreutz and other Bears made calls around the league to discourage players on other teams from voting for Williams, whose father Mayfield died Tuesday night. Williams is expected to play Sunday.

"I wish I had that kind of power," said Kreutz, who wasn't aware when he met with reporters of Williams' father's death. "I would put all my teammates in the Pro Bowl. I don't know how I could keep him out of the Pro Bowl. That would be amazing to me. I haven't seen him on very many snub lists. I don't even know if he's a first, second or third alternate, so one good game against me is not going to put you in the Hall of Fame. I don't know if that's what he expected to do."

Kreutz, who has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past five seasons, had mostly positive comments about Williams.

"He's obviously a very good run stuffer, everybody knows that," Kreutz said. "He may not be a Pro Bowler, but at stuffing the run, he's probably the best at it. He creates a lot of havoc in the backfield. You guys have been around me long enough to know that I don't lie about anybody. I tell the truth. It's a tough challenge for me, but when he talks, gives you a little more incentive to go out there and block him. If he wants to call a five-time Pro Bowler a joke, that's his prerogative."

Williams did a lot of chirping on the field in the first meeting with the Bears this season, but most of that was between him and Bears guard Ruben Brown, who was on the sideline with a partially torn chest muscle. Williams and Brown were teammates with the Bills from 1997-2003.

"He did a lot of talking and deservedly so," Kreutz said. "I won't lie about the way he played the first game; he played well against me. That's why we'll play against each other again and see what happens."

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