In Defense of Brian Urlacher
First, somehow I knew Brian Urlacher's criticism of Gale Sayers' comments would have legs and the national attention being paid is proof of just that. Second, I am the last person on earth most expect to come to the defense of Urlacher - a player who has worn out his welcome with me since the Super Bowl campaign of 2006. But, you know, I'm doing just that.
The Bears of yesteryear need to shut their mouths. Ditka. Butkus. Sayers. Hampton. All of them. Collectively they need to find something better to do with their time. I understand the rationale, believe me. Mike Ditka is nobody when detached from his success with the Bears. Sayers and Butkus know that if people aren't asking them about what's happening on Lake Shore Drive then people aren't asking them anything at all. These are men whose identities are undeniably attached to the Chicago Bears organization. It's not the notion of them commenting that bothers me. It's how they comment.
Look at this dose of idiocy from Hampton:
"Ultimately, [the Bears] haven't been successful in three years. However you want to cut it, those are the facts. Gale Sayers just had the audacity to point it out."
The audacity to point out the team hasn't made the playoffs in three years? Who hasn't pointed that out? It doesn't take audacity to state facts, does it? Are we going to applaud men for stating what any child could read off the Bears Wikipedia page?
What pissed Urlacher off? It's simple. A man who had ZERO team success in his albeit short playing career (ironically cut off by injury) wondering publicly if 54 was too old to rebound from injury. Urlacher broke his wrist. He didn't tear up his knee or struggle to get out of bed one morning. Why shouldn't he go to bat for himself and the organization? Why shouldn't he make it clear that just because you played well in a Bears uniform once doesn't give you the ever-ending critical pulpit? Nobody is happy with how the last three years have progressed for the Chicago Bears but that shouldn't mean the Bears of yesteryear have an open-ended ticket to bash the only reason anybody knows their names.
And let me add this. Where the hell was Sayers in 2006? Butkus? I don't remember turning on the television in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl and seeing these guys praising the club for their wonderful run to a title game, do you? You don't. You know why? Because that's not how these guys work. And I'm glad someone finally had the nerve to call them out on it. If you're looking for real audacity, Brian Urlacher showed that. And he may have won me back as a fan.