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FBI Investigates Chicago Bears Fred Miller

Chicago- On the day Fred Miller returned to practice and the Bears circled the wagons, FBI headquarters in Washington assigned its Inspection Division to investigate the fight between Miller and Olin Kreutz on FBI property at a shooting range in North Chicago.

National FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said Wednesday that the request for assistance from the agency’s internal affairs arm came from Robert Grant, special agent-in-charge of the Chicago office.

In Chicago, FBI spokesman Frank Bochte said that as the investigation continues there are no immediate plans to curtail organized “liaison” shoots like the one in which Bears players participated Nov. 7. The agency, however, is keeping its options open, he said.

“We are currently looking into the chronology of what happened,” Bochte said. “Obviously, we have one player punching another player. We’re not really clear where the punch was thrown that broke the jaw.”

What shooting and training activities in which the Bears participated is under review, he said.

Bochte confirmed agents sometimes provide classroom instruction and demonstrate the use of high-powered weapons, including sniper rifles and machine guns. If guests are permitted to fire those weapons, it’s only under strict supervision, he said.

Sources familiar with the incident said Kreutz and Miller were feuding before they arrived at the shooting range. After the shoot, during a barbecue at a recreational area on the facility, the two men exchanged heated words that escalated into blows.

Agents quickly stepped in to break the two huge men apart, sources said.

The players and agents were drinking beer, but they were not near the firing range and the weapons they had used earlier in the day had been locked away, the sources said.

About 10 Bears attended the shoot and barbecue along with roughly the same number of agents, including shooting range instructors, members of FBI SWAT teams and FBI managers, the sources said.

The Bears said there are no plans to curtail players’ off-day activities. Coach Lovie Smith said the organization consistently talks to players about off-day conduct and that the incident wouldn’t effect change in team policy.

“It doesn’t take an incident because we’re constantly preaching that,” Smith said, when asked about off-day conduct. “How many incidents have we had?

“If you look at our record, our guys have done a pretty good job with most things.”

Smith also said the incident wouldn’t affect the organization’s longstanding relationship with the FBI. Bears players and officials have been shooting at the range for years.

“We’ve had a great relationship with them,” Smith said. “How can you blame them for what happened?”

No disciplinary action has been taken against Kreutz or Miller, who placed his chances of playing Sunday vs. Carolina at “50-50.”

Tuesday an NFL official said disciplinary action from its end is unlikely. But with the FBI investigating the matter, the NFL still is reviewing the incident.

That’s one reason why the Bears have yet to mete out internal discipline. If the league opts not to discipline the players, it’s likely the Bears will administer fines.

In the NFL’s personal conduct policy, distributed to every player, it’s clearly stated that “engaging in violent and/or criminal activity is unacceptable and constitutes conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL.”

Later in the policy, it states that “any covered person who commits or threatens violent acts against co-workers, regardless of whether an arrest is made or criminal charges are brought, shall be subject to evaluation, counseling and discipline, including termination of employment.”

The Bears merely hope that talk about the incident is terminated. Carolina has won six straight, the Bears five and this outcome could affect the NFC playoff picture.

“It’s too big a game to be concentrating on off-the-field stuff that really has no bearing on it,” quarterback Kyle Orton said. “All of our focus and energy is on Carolina.”

John St. Clair, who would start at right tackle against Julius Peppers if Miller can’t go, seemed perplexed by all the questions about the incident.

“It hasn’t been a distraction at all,” St. Clair said. “In the meeting room, it’s normal. We’re a cohesive group. Everyone gets along.”

Miller has lost 15 pounds and is consuming soup and energy drinks in lieu of solid food, which he said he won’t be able to eat for another week. Still, he hopes to play.

“I definitely worry about a head slap, but I worry about that every week,” Miller said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to perform with it.”

Kreutz downplayed the team’s ability to play despite distractions.

“We’re all football players; that’s what we do,” he said. “As far as we’re concerned, it’s done.”

Smith also took strong exception to any suggestions that he lied during the process.

“Anybody who knows me will say that one thing I’ve never been called is a liar,” he said. “I don’t lie. I tell the truth. That’s what happened here. Once I found out the facts, I let everyone know. We didn’t keep anything secret.”

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