Brian Urlacher will retire a Bear. A bittersweet, yet proud moment for Chicago Bears fans everywhere.
Let’s take a look back at the career that gave Brian 939 tackles, 41.5 sacks, and 22 interceptions.
Brian was the Bears’ first round draft pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. Coming from the University of New Mexico, there were a lot of possibilities for him as a professional. The positions he had the talent to play seemed endless.One of the more popular lines from Mel Kiper’s draft report that year said: “I view him as either a mike-man or OLB, with his overall physical ability and toughness ideally suited for the second line of defense.”
Bears chose him to fulfill the LB slot, where he thrived for 14 years.
Chicago fans immediately took a liking to Urlacher’s play style and aggressiveness on the field, and they claimed him as their own. His rookie year he recorded 8 sacks and 123 combined tackles. Not bad for a kid from New Mexico.
Over the next few years Brian had some personal issues, like everyone typically does at some point in their career, but it never really impacted his play and it was never anything serious (which is all fans really care about). This was the transition in which he turned into less of a categorized athlete and more of a “celebrity”.
In 2007, Urlacher helped the Bears reach the Superbowl in which they faced the Indianapolis Colts. This was their first Superbowl appearance since 1985. They lost 29-17, in what would be Brian Urlacher’s only appearance in the big game. That season he recorded 123 combined tackles and 5 sacks.More recently, fans everywhere started to see the decline in his play as his health started taking hits. In 2009, he dislocated his wrist in the season opener and missed the rest of the season. And in January 2012, he sprained his MCL.
Summer 2012 was a long one for Bears fans. The media provided conflicting reports on his treatment and his rehab, and they provided no answers regarding his recovery.
Turns out, Brian had blood therapy in Germany before his surgery. He played a few games the beginning of the 2012-13 season, but it wasn’t the same Urlacher we were used to seeing after all these years. He continued to lead on and off the field, he had 1 interception returned for a touchdown and 68 combined tackles, but he lacked the spark that IS Brian Urlacher.
Seeing him go down against the Seahawks in December was tough to watch across the league, but especially in Chicago. When it was announced that he injured his hamstring, most of us knew this would be the end to an era. But deep down we also still had a teeny, tiny glimmer of hope that our great Urlacher would come back stronger than ever.
The contract discussions were coming. Fans were torn. Some wanted Brian to remain a Bear if the price was right, and to support him to the end of his career. Some didn’t think it was worth it considering his health. An agreement could not be made and Urlacher and the Chicago Bears officially parted ways on March 20th.
I won’t get into the “where will Brian end up?” discussion, because this is about his career. And his career is in a Chicago Bears jersey and in the best city in the world.
Although his health has declined more recently, no one in Chicago will every forget the resilient Brian Urlacher that blessed our organization in 2000. For 14 years, he has given us every ounce of his passion. For 14 years, he has helped make our team stronger. For 14 years, he has provided our guys with leadership on and off the field. For 14 years, he has tried to not only improve, but improve all those around him.
To watch the entire career of a possible Hall of Famer is pretty cool. Especially when that potential Hall of Famer is one of our own.
Thank you for all blood, sweat, and tears, Brian. My only regret is that we didn’t get you the Superbowl ring you deserve.