Brian Urlacher was released this off-season by the Bears on March 20th. He’d been slowed down by injuries in the later parts of his career but the thing that truly stood out to me was his leadership. He was truly the definition of an impact player. When he was out, the Bears defense struggled and when he was in, you saw a much different unit on the field. The Bears defense would feed off his energy.
Let’s fast forward to today. On twitter, the man in the middle for the Bears defense for so long has finally decided to call it a career after 13 stellar seasons in the orange and blue. What wasn’t there to like about this guy and what he bought to the field? He was quick (before the knee injuries set in), knew where to be at all times, he was the anchor of that defense and he established himself as one of the more productive defensive players in the NFL. What a career this guy had. He won rookie of the year in 2000, defensive MVP in 2005 and he was also an 8 time pro bowler. His style of play, reputation and accomplishments made him one of the franchise’s most popular players. After he was released, I stated on air that it’d be weird not seeing #54 on the field. Brian was truly the face of that defense and the face of the franchise.
Here’s the question to be answered now: Is Brian Urlacher worthy of a spot in Canton? I believe he is and I also believe he’s one of the best Bears of all time and a lot of legends have worn the orange and blue. Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and you can add Urlacher to that list too. He put together 13 seasons of old school, grind it out football as I like to call it. “After spending a lot time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made the decision to retire,” Urlacher wrote Wednesday. “Although I could continue playing, I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear. “I want to thank all the people in my life that have help me along the way,” Urlacher continued. “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 the great game, but I leave with no regrets.” Outstanding career from an outstanding football player.