If there was one word which aptly described six-time Chicago Bears Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz, it was “intense.”
Kreutz’s passion and intensity sometimes got him into skirmishes with teammates during his colorful football career.
It wasn’t rare for Kreutz to break his teammates’ jaws during practice.
However, he wasn’t a bad guy. Far from it.
We’re talking about a hard-nosed player who endured a total of twenty quarterback changes during his 13-year tenure in Chicago.
From Pro Bowlers like Jay Cutler to unknowns like Cory Sauter, Kreutz had seen it all.
He also had to deal with the constant shuffling of the Bears’ offensive line.
Nevertheless, Olin Kreutz kept his nose to the grindstone and eventually became one of the best players in Chicago Bears franchise history.
Olin George Kreutz was born in Honolulu, HI on June 9, 1977.
He was the youngest in a family of four brothers.
Kreutz’s father Henry was a longshoreman. On the other hand, his mother worked as a teacher.
Olin Kreutz spent plenty of time at his grandfather’s home gym when he was growing up in Hawaii.
Not only did working out at the gym develop Kreutz’s physique, but it also helped mold his character at an early age.
“I get a lot from him,” Kreutz told The Washington Post’s Les Carpenter in 2007. “He showed me how to work hard and how to have a sense of pride in what I do.”
Kreutz attended Saint Louis School in his hometown of Honolulu.
Saint Louis School in Honolulu has produced the likes of Tyson Alualu (Jaguars), Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (Steelers/Jags), Olin Kreutz (Bears), Dominic Raiola (Lions) and Marcus Mariota.
Mahalo, you clever little Catholic school.
— Simon Milham (@simonmilham) January 7, 2018
He was a three-sport start who excelled in track, wrestling, and football for the Saint Louis Fighting Crusaders.
Among Kreutz’s teammates were future NFL stars Dominic Raiola and Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala.
Kreutz was named captain of the Fighting Crusaders football team as a senior in 1994.
He also won Hawaii’s state wrestling heavyweight title that year.
Olin Kreutz was just getting started in his colorful gridiron career.
He eventually blossomed into a talented offensive lineman for the Washington Huskies in the college football ranks.
College Days With The Washington Huskies
Olin Kreutz attended the University of Washington from 1995 to 1997.
He suited up for Washington Huskies head football coach Jim Lambright.
By the time Kreutz was a true freshman offensive lineman with the Washington Huskies, he could already bench press 450 pounds, per The Seattle Times‘ Danny O’Neil.
Much of the credit goes to the stellar work ethic he developed in his grandfather’s home gym in Hawaii many years ago.
Washington won seven games in Kreutz’s true freshman season in 1995.
Regrettably, the Iowa Hawkeyes upset the 20th-ranked Huskies in the 1995 Sun Bowl, 38-18.
Even during Kreutz’s college days with the Huskies, he already had a ferocious temper.
He had an altercation with teammate Sekou Wiggs, a junior defensive tackle, during spring practice in 1996.
The conflict began on the gridiron and spilled over into the Huskies’ locker room.
Kreutz punched Wiggs so hard, that doctors had to wire the latter’s jaw shut for an entire month, per The Seattle Times.
Consequently, Wiggs couldn’t eat solid food during that time frame.
He lost at least 40 pounds during the offseason.
When Wiggs returned for his junior campaign in the 1996 NCAA season, he was 25 pounds lighter than his playing weight of 320 pounds.
His football career was never the same after that skirmish with Olin Kreutz.
Wiggs told O’Neil he was certain he would’ve played in the NFL had the fight not happened.
Wiggs became a real estate professional after his playing career with the Huskies ended.
Happy Birthday to Olin Kreutz, 1997 First Team All-American & class of 2016 Husky Hall of Fame inductee. #UWHuskies pic.twitter.com/gWpUfjknjb
— Washington Football (@UW_Football) June 9, 2016
On the other hand, Lambright kicked Kreutz off the Huskies roster for the rest of spring practice.
The Washington head football coach reinstated Kreutz only after he completed his anger management course.
It wasn’t the last time Olin Kreutz’s fiery temper got him in trouble.
Kreutz almost pulverized Huskies quarterback Brock Huard several months later.
It all started when Huard made a side comment about Kreutz’s mother being young and pretty.
Kreutz didn’t take it as a compliment, to say the least.
He chased Huard out of the cafeteria and around the University of Washington campus, wanting to get a piece of him.
“Probably the fastest 40 (yards) I’ve ever run,” Huard told The Seattle Times in 2007.
The Huskies won an average of eight games in Kreutz’s next two years in Seattle, WA.
With Kreutz anchoring Washington’s offensive line, the Huskies routed the Michigan State Spartans in the 1997 Aloha Bowl in his home state of Hawaii, 51-23.
Olin Kreutz skipped his senior year at Washington and declared for the NFL Draft following the 1997 NCAA season.
He ended his college football career on a high note.
Kreutz earned Consensus All-American honors and First-Team All-Pac-10 honors after his junior campaign with the Huskies.
Olin Kreutz brought his tenacity and relentlessness to The Windy City in the next phase of his gridiron journey.
He’d eventually become one of the greatest players to ever wear a Chicago Bears jersey.
Pro Football Career
The Chicago Bears made Olin Kreutz the 64th overall selection of the 1998 NFL Draft.
Kreutz eventually spent the next thirteen years in The Windy City.
He told The Athletic’s Adam Jahns in 2021 that the quarterback situation in Chicago was so chaotic for a long time, that he couldn’t even remember the names of every signal caller he snapped the ball to over the years.
However, when he reviewed film of several Bears quarterbacks, the memories started coming back to him again.
He confessed to Jahns his head hurt after studying footage of those players.
Kreutz also envied former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday – he snapped the pigskin to future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning for his entire 13-year pro football career.
Kreutz played in his first start in the Bears’ last game of the 1998 NFL season.
Prior to that, he played behind starting center Casey Wiegmann midway through the year.
In 1998 alone, Kreutz played with three different quarterbacks: Moses Moreno, Erik Kramer, and Steve Strensom.
The final season of the six-year Dave Wannstedt era ended in disastrous fashion.
The Bears won just four games and missed the postseason for the sixth time in the past seven years.
Chicago’s confusing quarterback carousel continued when new Bears head coach Dick Jauron took over the reins in 1999.
Jauron constantly resorted to a three-quarterback rotation that featured rookie Cade McNown, Shane Matthews, and Jim Miller.
Wishing a happy 38th birthday to fomer #Bears center Olin Kreutz. pic.twitter.com/bcTigkycjf
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) June 9, 2015
The persistent shuffling of quarterbacks threw Kreutz off his game.
“It’s just hard to get into rhythm when you’re switching quarterbacks that much,” he told The Athletic some twenty-two years later.
At that point in Kreutz’s two-year pro football career, he had already snapped the football to six different quarterbacks.
The insanity continued for the next several years.
The Bears won an average of just six games from 1999 to 2000.
Chicago won an impressive thirteen games in 2001 but lost to Donovan McNabb’s Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional Round, 33-19.
The Bears traded the disappointing McNown following the 2001 NFL campaign.
Consequently, Jim Miller took over as Chicago’s starter in 2002.
It seemed Miller could finally stabilize the Bears’ quarterback situation.
Alas, it didn’t turn out that way.
After the Bears lost Miller to an injury, Kreutz snapped the football to Henry Burris, Cory Sauter, and Chris Chandler.
To nobody’s surprise, Chicago won just four games in 2002 – a nine-game drop-off from the previous season.
Remarkably, Kreutz sat out just one game that year after he underwent an appendectomy during the offseason.
Kreutz worked with quarterbacks Chris Chandler, Kordell Stewart, and Rex Grossman in 2003.
Grossman became the 11th quarterback Olin Kreutz tried to establish chemistry with since the latter entered the NFL in 1998.
Kreutz pointed out to Jahns that the Bears played much better whenever they had stability at the quarterback position.
Despite the madness at quarterback, the Bears won seven games in Dick Jauron’s final year as Bears head coach.
Chicago ushered in the Lovie Smith era in 2005.
Even with a new head coach in tow, Olin Kreutz’s quarterback dilemma somehow persisted.
After Grossman blew out his knee during training camp in 2004, Smith juggled Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel, and Chad Hutchinson at quarterback.
The list of quarterbacks Kreutz worked with grew to fourteen in his eighth pro football season.
The Bears won just five games and missed the postseason for the ninth time in ten years.
Olin Kreutz fought through instability at the Bears’ quarterback and offensive linemen positions during the early part of his NFL career with the Bears.
Whenever the Bears failed to contend for the postseason, Kreutz singled out two glaring factors: quarterback and offensive line.
“If the Bears wanted to take a good look at why they don’t have any success on offense, they can pretty much start at the quarterback and offensive line,” Kreutz told The Athletic in 2021.
It seemed the Bears also regularly shuffled their offensive linemen from 1998 to 2010.
The lone exception was Kreutz, the big man in the middle who was a constant force for the Bears.
He also had to endure six losing seasons in this first seven years in the professional football ranks.
.@olin_kreutz got us ready to run through a wall!#CHIvsAZ | #MNF pic.twitter.com/XJoRSKWkze
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 14, 2020
Through it all, Kreutz earned six consecutive Pro Bowl berths from 2001 to 2006.
He became a Second-Team All-Pro selection in 2005.
With the Bears’ signing of former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake, Kreutz had already worked with an incredible sixteen quarterbacks at that point.
It had also been nine years since Kreutz broke Washington Huskies teammate Sekou Wiggs’ jaw.
Kreutz struck again in his eighth pro football season.
The 6’2″, 292-lb. Kreutz gave away five inches and almost 30 pounds to his fellow Bears offensive lineman Fred Miller, who stood 6’7″ and weighed 320 pounds.
Olin Kreutz remained unfazed.
He broke Miller’s jaw in a fight during a team practice in November 2005. The latter eventually required surgery.
The two men spoke with each other and reconciled shorty after the incident.
It wasn’t always rough sailing for Chicago when Kreutz anchored its offensive line for thirteen years.
In fact, the Bears won at least eleven games four times during his stint in Chicago.
They even won thirteen games in the 2006 NFL season and made it to Super Bowl XLI against Manning’s Colts.
Unfortunately, Kreutz and the Bears lost, 29-17.
Nonetheless, Kreutz earned his sixth Pro Bowl berth. He also became a First-Team All-Pro selection following the 2006 NFL campaign.
When the Bears relied on a solitary quarterback, they experienced some success.
The lone exception occurred during the 2009 NFL season – Kreutz’s 12th season in the pro football ranks.
.@MattForte22 and @olin_kreutz talked about playing with quarterbacks that just "looked good in practice" before on the #FootballAftershow.
Does Mitch Trubisky's problem with reading and reacting to a defense remind you of Jay Cutler? pic.twitter.com/awbNGATSXt
— Bears Talk (@NBCSBears) October 28, 2019
Although Jay Cutler started sixteen games for head coach Lovie Smith, Chicago won just seven games that year.
The Bears dealt veteran 35-year-old quarterback Kyle Orton to the Denver Broncos as part of the Culter trade.
Kreutz admitted to The Athletic he and his teammates were down after Orton left town – he was a respected veteran and leader on the Bears’ roster.
When Kreutz saw Culter practice for the first time, the latter impressed him and the rest of the Bears with his gunslinging prowess.
Cutler had 3,666 passing yards and 27 touchdown passes in 2009.
However, he also threw 26 interceptions that year.
As for Olin Kreutz, he entered his 13th NFL season in 2010.
The 33-year-old center was yearning for a Vince Lombardi Trophy – it had been just four years since the Bears lost to the Colts in Super Bowl XLI.
Cutler almost took them to the promised land.
Regrettably, Chicago lost to their NFC North nemesis, the Green Bay Packers, in the NFC title game, 21-14.
Kreutz turned down a one-year, $4 million contract extension offer from Chicago during the offseason.
His 13-year career in The Windy City had officially ended.
His 182 starts for the Bears are second in franchise history behind legendary running back Walter Payton.
Eight-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was Olin Kreutz’s Bears teammate from 2000 to 2010.
Kreutz gave credit to Urlacher for making him a better center in the NFL.
“He was amazing, man,” Kreutz told Jahns in March 2021. “He was amazing. I’m telling you.”
Urlacher already sang Kreutz’s praises some fifteen years earlier.
“Olin is one of my favorite people on the team,” Urlacher told The Seattle Times’ Danny O’Neil in the fall of 2006. “Number one thing: I’m glad he’s on my team because I wouldn’t want to play against him.”
Kreutz signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the New Orleans Saints on August 5, 2011.
Kreutz’s contract also included $2 million worth of incentives.
Little did he know his stay in the Big Easy would be a short and tumultuous one.
So, Olin Kreutz just told us the story of him walking away mid-season in New Orleans he says for the first time publicly. Said he couldn't deal with Aaron Kromer anymore and he charged him and Drew Brees tried to physically restrain him and he put Brees on the wall! Helluva story
— Danny Parkins (@DannyParkins) September 17, 2018
Things reached a boiling point when he threw eventual 13-time Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees against a wall.
Kreutz never had a score to settle with Brees.
It turned out he never got along with Saints offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.
Kromer said things over the course of several months which he never should’ve told a 13-year veteran who had put in the time and effort on the gridiron.
“If I would’ve spent one more minute with him I would’ve torn his head off,” Kreutz told the McNeil & Perkins podcast (via SaintsWire’s John Sigler) in September 2018. “I knew if this guy said one more thing to me I would’ve put him in the hospital.”
One day in the Saints locker room, a seething Kreutz charged at Kromer.
However, Brees tried to intervene and grabbed Kreutz.
Kreutz, in turn, threw his quarterback against the locker room wall.
When McNeil and Perkins asked Kreutz why he threw Brees – of all people – against a wall, he remained nonchalant.
“Listen, Hall of Famer or not, you don’t grab people,” Kreutz said.
At that moment when Kreutz reacted harshly to Brees’ intervention, he knew his time in New Orleans was over.
The Saints released him after he left the team on October 22, 2011.
Olin Kreutz had officially played his final down in the National Football League.
He ended his pro football career in a controversial manner.
However, it doesn’t define his legacy on the gridiron.
57 days until the NFL season begins!!!@olin_kreutz exemplified what it meant to be a part of the Chicago #Bears. His toughness, smarts, and work ethic led him to 6 Pro Bowls, 2 All Pro Selections and a spot on the 2000s All Decade Team.🐻⬇️
Next stop: Canton, Ohio. pic.twitter.com/5zVmtTSmOr
— The Brawl Network ™️ (@NetworkBrawl) July 10, 2019
Olin Kreutz was a hard-nosed player who habitually lifted weights on his off days.
He also offered guidance to younger players whenever they needed advice.
For that, Lovie Smith, his former head coach with the Chicago Bears, considered him one of the best leaders he had ever seen on the football field.
“Just a real man,” Smith told The Seattle Times in 2007.
Little wonder The Chicago Tribune ranked Olin Kreutz the 26th greatest Chicago Bears player of all time.
Olin Kreutz and his wife Wendi have six children. They currently live in the Bannockburn, IL area. They also have a winter residence in Kalama Valley, HI.
Kreutz became a member of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
He entered the Husky Hall of Fame in the fall of 2016.
Kreutz joined the Chicago sports media industry several years after he retired from the National Football League.
He became a Bears postgame analyst for WSCR 670 The Score in the summer of 2015.
Kreutz joined former Chicago teammates Matt Forte, Alex Brown, and Lance Briggs on NBC Sports Chicago’s “Football Aftershow” as a gameday analyst four years later.
Kreutz and former Chicago fullback Jason McKie launched “The No Name Football Podcast” in the spring of 2021.
Kreutz became a modern-era nominee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
Kreutz got into a feud with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the fall of 2021.
Rodgers taunted Bears fans at Soldier Field during the Packers’ 24-14 road win on October 20, 2021.
“I’ve owned you all my f—–g life. I own you. I still own you,” Rodgers hollered at the Bears fans after he scored on a touchdown to give Green Bay a 10-point lead.
Rodgers has a 22-5 win-loss record against the Bears since the 2008 NFL season.
To add insult to injury, Green Bay has won 10 of their past 11 games at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Kreutz took exception to Rodgers’ taunt.
He told 670 The Score’s Mully and Haugh Show he wanted to punch the Packers quarterback in the face.
For his part, Rodgers told The Pat McAfee Show that he shrugged off Kreutz’s comment and even said he respected him.
Rodgers also claimed he taunted Bears fans in the heat of the moment.
However, Olin Kreutz didn’t buy it.
He told The Parkins and Spiegel Show (via NBC Sports Chicago) that the way Rodgers said what he said insulted the entire city of Chicago.
Kreutz felt Rodgers could’ve said it more respectfully instead of taunting Bears fans like he did during the game.
He revealed on NBC Chicago’s “Football Aftershow” in January 2022 that the Bears offered him an assistant offensive line coaching position in training camp that paid just $15 an hour.
Bears chairman George McCaskey told NBC Chicago’s Alex Shapiro several days later that he had learned “to take just about everything Olin says with a grain of salt.”
When Shapiro asked McCaskey to confirm Kreutz’s statement wasn’t true, McCaskey said only Kreutz knows the full details.
McCaskey’s answer didn’t sit well with the former 13-time Pro Bowl Bears center.
After learning about McCaskey’s response, Kreutz told WSCR 670 The Score (via NBC Chicago) that he felt the Bears chairman didn’t like him
He even said McCaskey – who he hadn’t spoken to since leaving the Bears in 2011 – thought he was a liar.
Kreutz felt McCaskey should’ve cleared the air with former Bears offensive line coach Harry Hiestand and former general manager Ryan Pace concerning the $15-an-hour rumor.
Kreutz’s son Josh has followed in his footsteps on the gridiron.
Josh Kreutz, a three-star offensive lineman from Chicago’s Loyola Academy, committed to Lovie Smith’s Illinois Fighting Illini in the summer of 2020.
Both father and son wound up playing for the same head coach, although at different levels in the football hierarchy.
Olin Kreutz played for Smith with the Chicago Bears for seven seasons from 2004 to 2010.
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