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Bears, Enis Break Off Talks

August 16, 1998

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. (AP) _ Contract talks between the Chicago Bears and first-round pick Curtis Enis broke off Saturday.

Enis, the former Penn State running back chosen fifth overall in the draft, told Bears player negotiator Ted Phillips that he will sit out the season and re-enter the NFL draft next year.

``He said he looks forward to being in another team’s uniform,″ Phillips told Chicago’s WSCR radio.

The Bears said they soundly rejected the latest proposal by Enis’ agent, Greg Feste. It called for Enis to become an unrestricted free agent after his third season, which goes against the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.

``We can’t do that,″ Bears vice president of player personnel Mark Hatley said Saturday.

Under the current labor agreement, a player is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent only after his fourth season.

Phillips blames Feste for the three-week holdout.

``He either doesn’t want to, or he doesn’t know how to negotiate a contract,″ Phillips said. ``He has no sense of when to get a deal done, or how to get a deal done.″

Enis changed agents when he became a devout Christian this summer.

Both sides handed down ultimatums Friday. Phillips said he gave Enis until Sunday noon to accept one of two offers, a five-year deal and a six-year deal. Thereafter, he would offer a three-year deal with a significantly smaller signing bonus. Feste rejected both long-term offers Friday and gave the Bears a take-it-or-leave-it offer, the three-year proposal rejected Saturday by the team.

The long holdout had prompted the Bears to sign veteran halfback Bam Morris, who scored two touchdowns Friday night against Arizona. Morris signed a one-year deal Aug. 4.

Morris is backing up Edgar Bennett, who signed a four-year, $6.2 million contract in the offseason.

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