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Bears Release Troubled Spellman

The Chicago Bears released defensive end Alonzo Spellman on Friday after a disappointing season and months of erratic off-field behavior, which included a stay in a psychiatric ward.

Ted Phillips, vice president of operations, said Spellman's release now would give the player time to sign with another team before preseason training camps open.

"It's always difficult to release a veteran player like Alonzo," Phillips said of the Bears' 1992 first-round pick. "Nevertheless, our responsibility is to produce the most competitive team possible within the constraints of the salary cap, not just this year, but in future years as well."

Phillips did not refer to any of Spellman's off-field problems, which followed an injury-plagued season in which the Spellman feuded with the Bears over his treatment.

The 6-foot-4, 292-pound Spellman, who was halfway through a four-year contract, was suspended for three games last year after refusing to have arthroscopic surgery recommended by the team for a shoulder injury. Through arbitration, he eventually won a $335,295 judgment in back pay.

Earlier this year, Spellman barricaded himself in the home of his publicist after plans to submit to an NFL-sponsored drug test went awry.

A standoff with police ended after eight hours when former Bears linebacker Mike Singletary arrived on the scene, calmed Spellman and drove him to a hospital. Spellman later spent some time in a psychiatric ward.

Spellman's wife, Lizzie, blamed Bears officials for the episode. She said shortly after a March meeting between Bears coach Dave Wannstedt and Spellman, she found her husband wandering the streets near an aunt's home in Detroit with no shoes or coat yelling at passersby. She has since divorced the player.

Last month, Spellman got into a scuffle with security workers at a Detroit hotel while he was attempting to break up a fight between two women accompanying him. He was at the hotel to attend a party.

Police used pepper spray to subdue Spellman, who was not charged.

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