I am not going to write a poetic rambling on the importance of Brian Urlacher to the Chicago Bears over the last thirteen years. There will be plenty of those in the Tribune, the Sun-Times and on the various web outlets over the coming days. Instead I'll compile my thoughts in list form as they are far less connected than would be necessary for a full column.
- Brian Urlacher is a great Chicago Bears, a most-likely Hall of Fame linebacker, but his immortal status is marred by his lack of championship. Think of it this way. If Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs win a title in the next few year with the Bears, which of the players will be viewed in a more positive light come a decade or two.
- My two favorite moments in Urlacher's career: (1) When he stripped Edgerinn James in the "who we thought they were" Cardinals comeback there was a look on his face that read WE WILL NOT BE DEFEATED TONIGHT. It was an implausible play in an implausible contest and one of the most memorable sporting events of my lifetime. (2) In Nashville, this season, watching a hobbling Urlacher live as he rumbled an interception to the house for a touchdown. It seemed to take him ten minutes to go forty yards. It was made more heroic when I watched Urlacher limp - literally limp - into the tunnel at the end of the rout.
- He affected opponent game plans as much as any non-pass rusher in the sport. Per Andrew Brandt, "Don't remember another defensive player that affected game-planning for us in GB like Urlacher did."
- He is one of the best regarded teammates in the modern NFL. Cameron Worrell has done a terrific job for this site on Urlacher-in-the-locker room. CLICK HERE to listen to one such broadcast.
- Spare me the Brian Urlacher-Ray Lewis comparisons. Because Urlacher is not the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history does not make him a not great middle linebacker.
The Bears should not waste time in celebrating Urlacher's career. They don't need to retire his number immediately but they should set up a microphone at the 50 yard line at halftime of the home opener against the Bengals. They should march Urlacher onto the field and have him say goodbye. Yes, it will be nice for him. But more importantly it will give a thankful fan base the opportunity to applaud him one last time.