The Chicago Bears released cornerback Nathan Vasher on Wednesday.
"Nate was a great teammate," said Zack Bowman, who replaced Vasher at cornerback. "It was amazing how he kept things so positive even though things really weren't going the way he wanted them to on the field.
"The guy never took a negative approach to anything. He constantly gave me pointers, gave me encouragement and passed on a lot of things that as a young guy I really benefited from. Not only did Vash play some good ball here in Chicago, he was an extremely popular guy in the locker room.
Whether you needed a ride somewhere or wanted to watch a basketball game with somebody, Vash was always eager to hang out."
Vasher, who earned a Pro Bowl selection after recording eight interceptions in 2005, set an NFL record by returning a missed field goal 108 yards for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 13, 2005.
That record was broken when San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown in 2007.
A fourth-round pick in 2004, Vasher started 46 games in six seasons with the Bears.
The Bears signed veteran cornerback Tim Jennings to a two-year contract on Tuesday.
Chicago's decision to release cornerback Nathan Vasher came a year too late.
Whether it was injuries or confidence or a combination of both, Vasher was clearly an inferior player at the end of the 2008 season. He appeared in eight games that year, after making it through only four the season before, and had a $2.5 million roster bonus due before the 2009 season.
That seemed an appropriate time to part ways, but the Bears' loyalty to a key player on the 2006 Super Bowl team got the best of them. Against all logic, they believed Vasher could regain his starting job and give them the kind of playmaking that led to 13 interceptions in the first two seasons of his career.
Vasher, however, started only two games and lost his job to Zack Bowman. Any chance of competing for the 2010 nickel job was eliminated Tuesday after the Bears signed free agent Tim Jennings.
But don't shed many tears for Vasher, one of the genuinely good guys in the Bears locker room. As Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune points out, Vasher collected $18.6 million over the past three seasons.