Chicago Bears Brian Urlacher Announces Retirement

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Brian Urlacher
Urlacher retires after 13 seasons, all with the Chicago Bears

Former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher announced today that he is retiring from the NFL after 13 seasons.

I know this is a Packers website but when one of the all-time greats from a division rival hangs up the cleats, it’s noteworthy. Urlacher is a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer.  No doubt about it.  Even the casual fan knows who he is and what he accomplished for the Chicago Bears and the NFL.

Packers fans surely will forever remember the frustration that he caused them and their team during all of those years.

Here is the message Urlacher posted via his Twitter account:

He ends a career in which he wore only one uniform and was the face of the franchise.  In today’s NFL, it is rare to see a player stay with his original team for that length of time.  But it almost didn’t end that way.

The Bears had released Urlacher earlier this offseason and, initially, it created a bit of a rift between he and the team.  Reports emerged that Urlacher felt that the Bears made him a very low “take it or leave it” offer to stay this season, and he chose to leave it.

Rumors started about which teams might have an interest in the veteran linebacker, one of which was the always-popular choice to pick up an old divisional foe: the Minnesota Vikings.  I think it’s safe to say that those rumors were false.

Urlacher also made some very frustrated comments about the situation and the reaction of some fans.  He stated that he didn’t care what they thought and that he didn’t play the game for any other reason than for himself.  Urlacher clearly backed off of that platform today with a statement that he released, part of which stated:

“. . .When considering this along with the fact I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear. . .I want to thank all of the people in my life that have helped me along the way,” Urlacher said. “I will miss my teammates, my coaches, and the great Bears fans. I’m proud to say that I gave all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regret”

Urlacher leaves behind a legacy and stellar career that included over 1,000 tackles and 41.5 sacks.  Coming out of college, it was Urlacher’s speed that stood out.  He played safety and was converted to linebacker.  Someone saw something in him and they were right.

Besides the great stats and leadership that he brought forth every week, Urlacher was a throwback.  An old-school and hard-nosed football player who played hard on every snap.  Offensive players knew where he was on the field at all times and if they didn’t, they received a harsh reminder.  With the rule changes that have been implemented in the NFL recently, it’s not likely that we will see another warrior like Brian Urlacher.

I’m glad that I personally had the chance to see him play, in person, on a few occasions.  I’ll be surprised if he isn’t still among my top five all-time favorite players when all is said and done.  The game and the Bears will surely miss #54.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.com

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  • Stroh

    Lasting memory is Rodgers tackling him to save a 95 yd INT TD! Thanx for that memory!

  • Scott1956

    The lasting memory of Urlacher is a truly great player, who played the game the right way. His next stop is Canton.

    • Savage57

      Hold up on the Canton induction. Good MLB who happpened to play in the capitol of MLB hype. Canton? Not so much.

      A product of the Chicago media hype machine. I mean, c’mon. While he was playing who else did the Bears have that was worth anything? Bears fans and media had to have someone to hero worship.

      • http://allgbp.com/category/authors/jason-perone/ Jason Perone

        To each their own but Sav, you’re definitely in the minority. Just poll the reactions and comments of those who vote for HoF from earlier today when they heard the news. He’s in and deservedly so. I’ll be downright shocked if he’s not first ballot.

        • Savage57

          Ain’t America a great place? You can have an opinion that runs contrary to the majority and it’s still allowed and respected?

          Or maybe not.

          • http://allgbp.com/category/authors/jason-perone/ Jason Perone

            Absolutely. .it’s what I look forward to after I put up a new piece

        • PatMc

          I can’t recall how many SB rings he collected? zero? I liked watching him but Sav is right, too much hype as well. He needs to wait five years and then the HOF vote takes place. Let’s see then.

          He will not go 1st ballot…maybe in year 2, 3 or later.

  • Razer

    I appreciate a player who shows up and play hard every game. Urlacher played old-time, tough football without being dirty or trashy. A true pro and a great adversary. He carried on that pro’s pro tradition from another great Bear, Walter Payton.

  • Savage57

    I wanna throw out one last thought on this subject.

    Didn’t he play for the Bears? The Packers fiercest rival? The team Packer fans were brought up to hate since childhood?

    I could get all this Urlacher love showing up on AllChicagoBears.com, but here? That’d be like posting how much you admire the guy you caught stealing from you on your family website because you just had to appreciate how good he was at it.

    By the way, the term “Great Bear” is an oxymoron.

    • http://allgbp.com/category/authors/jason-perone/ Jason Perone

      That got a chuckle. To that, many would say that there are those who are fans of a team and those who are fans of the game. Not saying you can’t be both. These rivalaries are long-standing but the appreciation for the game has evolved and as we continue get more and more access to the players via interviews, video, etc. “Back in the day”, all you saw was a guy in white and navy trying to decapitate your best player and you wanted the guy’s knees taken out. Urlacher always appreciated the skills of his opponents and wasn’t afraid to voice that, even if it was a hated rival. For those 3 hours and between whistles, all bets are off. Outside of that, what these guys do is amazing, regardless of the uniform.

      ESPN put up a stat that Urlacher is 1 of just 4 players in NFL history to have over 40 sacks and 20 INT’s in his career. Still think the HoF is a maybe for him?

      • PatMc

        Jason, how many SB rings did he win?

        • Chad Toporski

          Pat, how many SB rings did Dan Marino win?

          • PatMc

            One is QB with all the passing records when voted for. I don’t remember who else went in that year but I don’t think anyone important.

            The other is a LB who played tough, hard football which the NFL doesn’t want anymore. I just think the voters will pass on 1st vote.

            • JimR_in_DC

              1st Round HOF? I dunno. Urlacher is no Dick Butkus. ;)

              • Oppy

                Or Mike SIngletary.

        • http://allgbp.com/category/authors/jason-perone/ Jason Perone

          Pat, who cares?

          • PatMc

            The people that vote! That is who. In five years when that vote takes place it is the number of SB’s that matter most!

            He will be going against others who have won a SB and their will be wailing in Chicago.

            Not to say he should not be in HOF, but once some time goes by and the vote is taken – it is harder to get in than you think.

            • http://allgbp.com/category/authors/jason-perone/ Jason Perone

              I agree with that. I won’t be surprised if he’s not first ballot but I WILL be surprised if it’s more than 2. He is up against some tough competition if Randy Moss doesn’t return. That puts Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Urlacher and Ronde Barber on the same ballot ALONG with those who are up for vote again.

              What I disagree with is that Super Bowls are a huge key for a non-quarterback. It may creep into some of the minds, but it’s tough to argue against the guy’s body of work. There’s 22 guys on the field at a time. I wouldn’t put it on Urlacher that they didn’t win a SB

              • PatMc

                I’m not arguing the body of work Urlacher has over his 13 year career. Just that when it comes down to Ray Lewis or Urlacher on that first vote, I know who I’d vote for.

        • Scott1956

          Apparently that’s all you have to do PatM? Just be on a team that win Super Bowl? I’m sure all the second an third stringers on SB winning teams appreciate that they will end up in Canton!

          • PatMc

            Winning a SB like Lewis did will put him in on first ballot. Unfortunately for Urlacher he will be on the same ballot and not get in on first ballot.

            I’m not arguing the body of work Urlacher has over his 13 year career. Just that when it comes down to Ray Lewis or Urlacher on that first vote, I know who I’d vote for. Lewis will be first time probably and Urlacher the following year.

  • Savage57

    Jason, I lied earlier. That wasn’t my last thought. The thing is, with Urlacher, or AP, or Megatron, secretly you admire the shit out of them and wish they could have played for your team, but publicly that opponent thing always bubbles up for me and makes pronouncing my admiration difficult, if not impossible.

    So from that I’ll let you make your own conclusion as to whether I think the cat will make the HOF.

    And, thanks for keeping it civil.

    • http://allgbp.com/category/authors/jason-perone/ Jason Perone

      Well I know you think he’ll get into the Hall. What I think I should have focused on is exactly what you said in that it’s tough to cheer for an arch rival. Totally get it.

      Secretly, I think we all tend to admire a player more when they’re no longer a threat to our own team. I admired Urlacher a ton when he played but now that it’s all film and highlights from this point on, I can look back and appreciate a bit more.

      As far as the civil part, I never mean to be un-civil. I like reading everyone’s thoughts and we have a good group that come around here. You guys and girls know your stuff and, in the end, we’re all Pack fans so civil is how it should be!

  • Bearmeat
  • Oppy

    I think Urlacher was a great LB, and he has the stats to back it up. But I don’t know if he was as special as some have made him out to be.

    It’s hard to compare tampa-2 MLBs to LBs in other systems.. Not taking away from Urlacher’s performance, but a tampa-2 MLB gets to play almost a rover type assignment in the deep middle of the field most downs, which puts an athletic player in a great situation to break on balls and get the INTs… Much more so than most LBs in other schemes. One could also argue that by taking one or two false backpeddle steps off the snap, a Tampa 2 MLB can catch the line and the QB off guard when rushing, as well.

    At any rate, it still takes a great athlete to capitalize on those situations and make those plays, and Urlacher certainly did that. I just think comparing his sack and INT totals to other LB’s may be a bit skewed.

    • http://allgbp.com/category/authors/jason-perone/ Jason Perone

      The sack/INT stat was just one of many that prove that Urlacher was one of the greatest. Don’t take it from me. Look around and read what the voters and experts are saying.

      I don’t understand why there’s diminishing what the guy did when he just finished a great 13 year career. We can’t just be happy for the guy for one minute, we have to sit here and “yeah but” it. Look hard enough and you can find any reason to nitpick something.

      As you were. . .

      • Oppy

        I don’t think I’m nitpicking. I think Urlacher was a great LB. However, I don’t think he is in the same league talent-wise as guys like Ray Lewis or Patrick Willis. I don’t think he’s a guaranteed first ballot.

        Urlacher was a great, consistent LB. I don’t recall him really being a “take over the game” type of player, regardless of what the whole of the sports media is writing in the wake of his retirement announcement.

  • packett

    Thanks for posting classy article, and I’m all for honoring great players. Doesn’t matter whether opponent. I appreciate great competition, great performance. My respects to Urlacher. I appreciate a tough great athlete, good character opponent, more than I would appreciate a jerk on my favorite team (not that there are any:). Just the way I am. Am a die-hard pack fan, but no blind disregard to good character, great performers from any team. Not sure he’ll be HOF, but I hope so. I dread seeing another ray lewis pregame tribal chant. Imagine if RL played for our archrival, and we had to watch him once a month.

  • steve cheez

    I enjoy it when there are really-good to great players on our rivals.
    It makes it that much sweeter when we kick their butts.