Brian Urlacher: saying goodbye to a legend

By
Updated: March 21, 2013
Brian Urlacher has been a defensive cornerstone for the Bears for thirteen years.

Linebacker Brian Urlacher has been a cornerstone of the Chicago Bears defense for 13 years.

It’s never easy to say goodbye.

Unfortunately, Chicago Bears fans find themselves having to do exactly that with Brian Urlacher. After two months of hoping he would be back with my beloved Bears for another year or two before riding gracefully off into the sunset, . Chicago wanted Urlacher back, and Urlacher wanted to be back with Chicago, but the two sides split over a money difference.

Brian Urlacher helped lead the Bears to the 2007 Super Bowl.

Linebacker Brian Urlacher led the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl XLI.

Living legend

Brian Urlacher’s numbers speak for themselves. In 13 years with the Bears, he played in 182 games, amassing 1,353 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries, 22 interceptions, and five defensive touchdowns. He was the 2000 Defensive Rookie of the Year, was named to eight Pro Bowls, was a first-team All-Pro four times, and won the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year award.

But Urlacher’s impact on fans like me far transcends the numbers.

He has been with the Bears since 2000, when I was 11 years old. To me—and many others—Brian Urlacher is the Bears. I literally cannot remember a time when Urlacher was not a member of my favorite football team. I grew up living in Southern California and South Florida in the days before it was easy to follow your team from afar (thank you, internet!), and was lucky if I got to watch the Bears play two or three times a year. I also didn’t start following football seriously until around 2003 or so, when Urlacher was already established as the face of the franchise.

I moved to Chicago in 2006, right when Urlacher was in his prime and leading one of the NFL’s best defenses on a Super Bowl-bound team. I will never forget him matching Reggie Bush stride for stride down the length of the field in the 2006 NFC Championship Game, or intercepting hated rival Brett Favre and returning the ball 85 yards for a touchdown in a 2007 rout of the Green Bay Packers. These memories and many more will be with me forever, and I am sure the same is true for many other Bears fans.

Mixed emotions

I’m still trying to process the idea that Brian Urlacher will not be a Bear.

For over a decade now, the franchise has been defined by their dominant defense — with Urlacher at the helm — carrying a marginal (at best) offense. With Urlacher gone and moves being made to improve the offense, that identity is changing in a hurry. Objectively, I can look at Chicago’s recent track record and see that might be a good thing, but the fan in me is finding it hard to say goodbye to what I have known and loved for so long.

Seeing Urlacher in a non-Bears jersey would be as weird for Bears fans as Packers fans seeing Brett Favre in a Vikings jersey.

Seeing Brian Urlacher in the jersey of another team would be as weird as seeing Brett Favre in a Minnesota Vikings jersey.

The first reaction of many fans will be anger directed at the Bears, especially after Urlacher dismissed Chicago’s offer of one year at $2 million as “.” Others will surely resent Urlacher for refusing to play for less than $3 million per year. Personally, I hold no ill will toward either party. They both have to do what they think is best for them, and in this case that means going in different directions.

My greatest fear is that Urlacher ends up pulling an Olin Kreutz and settles for less money to go play elsewhere for a year (or part of a year in Kreutz’s case) before accepting the inevitable and retiring. It would feel wrong to see Urlacher in any uniform other than Chicago’s. I cannot stand the thought of rooting against Urlacher in a football game.  Although this is extremely selfish of me, I truly hope Urlacher is unable to find a team willing to pay him what he wants this year. I want nothing more than for him to retire as a lifelong Bear, joining other Chicago greats like Walter Payton, Dick Butkus, and many others.

Saying goodbye

Even as I struggle to bid my fond farewell, I can think back on Brian Urlacher’s career in Chicago and take solace in one thing. I had the privilege of watching an all-time great player, the second-best middle linebacker of his generation, play for my favorite team for 13 years. During that time, he provided consistently excellent play on the field without creating any problems off of it. I can’t ask for any more than that.

Thanks for the memories, Brian.

About the author

Jon Vander Woude enjoys writing in-depth analytical articles that examine statistical trends in the NFL offseason. He also covers the Chicago Bears beat for Water Cooler Sports. Despite growing up in Michigan, California, and Miami, he had the good fortune to be reared by a father who grew up in Chicago raised him to root for the Bears, Bulls, and Cubs. Feel free to write him at with any questions, comments, or suggestions for future columns. Connect with

812 comments
JVince 11
JVince 11 moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

I don't understand how LKP couldn't be more upset about it... Stafford should be on the cover of Madden.. Look at that flopping portrayal!!! that is NBA caliber!

JVince 11
JVince 11 moderator


Glover Quin.. welcome to the NFCN.. your task is to not fall down covering Crabtree and get burned for a TD... Good luck.

Um...
Um... moderator

Magnesium tastes like eating a pocket full of change.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A like.author.displayName 1 Like

  

My cat's breath smells like cat food.

JVince 11
JVince 11 moderator

  CAT BREATHCEPTION!!!!!

Um...
Um... moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

  Im sure mine does too.

JVince 11
JVince 11 moderator

What is this shit.. Bucknell is within a bucket of Butler!?

niemerg1
niemerg1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

 there is almost always a 6-11 upset...i picked minn for that role this year though

JVince 11
JVince 11 moderator

  I have Minny as well... I have Ole Miss beating Wisco, Cincy beating  Creighton, Nova over UNC, and WSU over Pitt as my upsets this round.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A like.author.displayName 1 Like

    

Fuck yes. My favorite thing is watching the frustration on the faces of the other teams. Like "what the fuck decade is this?".

niemerg1
niemerg1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

  i always love watching wisconsin...they are one of the best defensive teams in the ncaa EVERY. damn. year.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A like.author.displayName 1 Like

Ole Miss did play well against Florida, but I don't think they will be prepared for Bo Ryan's style of basketball.

niemerg1
niemerg1

  im not sure i would consider a 9 seed over an 8 seed as an upset...but yah, thats not too bad...though i don't think Wisconsin will lose...i actually have Wisconsin beating the zags

JVince 11
JVince 11 moderator

   Ole Miss played bad ass in the SEC tourny... I think Wisco is still licking their wouds from the OSU game and get caught off guard.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

   SEC sucked balls this year.  I think they'll all disappoint

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

   

Wisco is going to body slam Ole Miss.

Borderline Football Brilliant
Borderline Football Brilliant

Show of hands. How many of you have milked a cow?

Draji, the D is silent
Draji, the D is silent

Fuck you if you think is a bad movie


Preparation_A
Preparation_A like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

  

Is that "Freddie got Fingered"?

Preparation_A
Preparation_A like.author.displayName 1 Like

   

Agreed. I was sharpening my scythe. I shall lay it by.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A like.author.displayName 1 Like

   

No. I will refrain from talking shit about it because to do so would be asinine, and I, sir, am not asinine!

Draji, the D is silent
Draji, the D is silent like.author.displayName 1 Like

   

Lets just shake hands and move on before somebody says something they really don't mean and a mother fucka has to start sprayin that choppa

Draji, the D is silent
Draji, the D is silent

  

I thought you were implying you didn't like it, but you will refrain from talking shit about it because I enjoyed it

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

   

I think you can't read good. I said I was not going to talk shit about it.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A like.author.displayName 1 Like

   

Well then I shall refrain from denigrating it.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

  

I have not. I have, however, fled from a pack of cattle.

Draji, the D is silent
Draji, the D is silent like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

   

Is it too late for me to make a joke about you running from fat chicks?

Preparation_A
Preparation_A like.author.displayName 1 Like

    

Pretty much. Go ahead anyway though.

Borderline Football Brilliant
Borderline Football Brilliant

   

Seriously?

Um...
Um... moderator

@Nonstopdrivel @Um... So how do you explain all the sleeping Bison I have seen? I mean, i have seen them laying down, passed out, eyes closed and not while chewing their cud.

I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa

 They do certainly have rest periods, primarily when they chew the cud, but they don't really sleep in the traditional sense. Their brain waves don't go into that really slow state that other animals exhibit when they sleep. Except when chewing the cud, bovines more or less eat around the clock. They have to, since the subsist solely on plant material.

SDL
SDL

I lived in Rapid City, not far from Custer State Park.  Tourists there are always cautioned to stay away from these big fucking beasts

There's video out there of a tourist walking up to a big bull to take pics.  The animal wasn't pleased and charged him.  While attempting to gore him, he succeeded in throwing the little fucker into a tree.  

That probably saved a life.  If they get pissed, they will stomp your ass to death.

Remind me to slap the stuffing mix out of your dad for child endangerment.


Um...
Um... moderator

  You know, they probably just did not go to sleep because you all were there bothering them. I had Bison up the street from my house in California, they were on a a small farm. They would lay down and sleep pretty much every day for at least a little while.

I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

 When I say camping, I mean setting up a tent in a buffalo pasture. Campfire, roasting marshmallows, the whole bit. Yes, we were camping. After they started butting against the tent, my dad scooted us into the van.

SDL
SDL like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

 

I must admit, I was skeptical about this statement (before your clarification)

For the record: parking in a van and then sleeping in the van, is not 'camping'.... it's parking

Camping anywhere near buffalo can be hazardous to your health


Um...
Um... moderator

  I have seen laying down, sleeping Buffalo. where did you get this idea that they never sleep? 

I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa like.author.displayName 1 Like

 My mother set the whole thing up. I informed her of my skepticism about the plan, because certain bovids rarely, if ever sleep. My father thought I was full of shit -- surely all animals sleep! -- so he went ahead with the plan. He learned to his discomfiture that I was right. Buffalo don't sleep. 

Borderline Football Brilliant
Borderline Football Brilliant like.author.displayName 1 Like

  

That sounds crazy. They scared the shit out of me driving through Yellowstone. Something scared them and they took off. The ground shook.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A like.author.displayName 1 Like

   

Gross. I did not know that. I have some plans I need to revise...

I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa like.author.displayName 1 Like

 Yeah, but my dad freaked out when they started bumping up against our van and licking it. Did you know that buffalo tongues are covered with sticky hair? Do you have any clue how many hours of scrubbing it took to wash that shit off afterward?

Preparation_A
Preparation_A like.author.displayName 1 Like

  

Pretty much the opposite of fleeing, there, antonymicus.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

   

Yes. Had to climb a fucking tree. Those things are fast when they stampede downhill.

JVince 11
JVince 11 moderator like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

 your mom milked me last night!

Draji, the D is silent
Draji, the D is silent like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

 

With our hands?

JVince 11
JVince 11 moderator like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

  and... I ma being stared at for laughing out loud in my cube by my co-workers.

JVince 11
JVince 11 moderator like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

   I like my paycheck, SON!

JVince 11
JVince 11 moderator

   i am typing fast as fuck and then down-sizing this... or hiding it behind my email...