Sports Opinion & Analysis

Dear Mr. Urlacher, Please Don’t Go Anywhere

In NFL on May 30, 2012 at 10:40 am

I must confess, I am not a Chicago Bears fan.

It’s not that I have anything against da Bears, it’s just that I’ve never found myself ever rooting for them. Every time Fox showcases the NFC North rivalry game between da Bears and Green Bay, I usually find myself rooting for the Pack, but that’s only because I am easily influenced by pop culture references (I can’t help but enjoy Aaron Rodgers’ ‘Discount Double Check’ Dance). The last time da Bears played in the Super Bowl, I rooted for Peyton Manning (not the Indianapolis Colts mind you, but Peyton Manning). I mean, have you seen that guy? He’s hilarious! Too bad he’s probably going to end up crippled sometime later this year, though…

Either way, although I don’t root for da Bears, I still found myself somewhat saddened by the report that the face of da Bears’ organization (and Old Spice spokesman), Brian Urlacher may, after the 2012 season, leave the only team he has ever played for.

“If you beat me up now, I will only grow up to sack the crap out of you when you least expect it.”

Urlacher is a free agent at the end of the season, and at 34 years of age, da Bears might not be willing to pay the linebacker what he wants. Plus, with the powerhouse that is Green Bay, and the new Motor City Bad Boys, the up-and-coming-when-not-in-trouble Detroit Lions, the NFC North is looking a wee bit crowded, especially if you’re in the later part of your career and still searching for that elusive first Super Bowl ring. Moving to a destination with an easier road to the playoffs might be an attractive lure for anyone. New England maybe? The Texans? Anyone in the NFC West (until the 49ers repeat their 2012 success, I am still saying that division is wide-open)?

I understand it’s the sentimental pick to hope Urlacher stays with da Bears. Sure, professional athletes switch teams all the time; Brett Favre played with the Jets and Vikings; Michael Jordan went to the Wizards; Emmitt Smith played for the Cardinals (Seriously, Emmitt Smith played for the Cardinals. I know, right?).

“Yeah Jerry, we sure look stupid in these things!”

Either way, it’s an unfair comparison to put Urlacher in the same conversation as Favre, Jordan and Smith. Those guys, although different positions than Urlacher and, in Jordan’s case, an entirely different sport, are considered the greatest athletes of all time. Urlacher simply doesn’t compare. He’s good, don’t get me wrong, but no where even in the same universe as those other guys.

But what’s significant about Urlacher is that he played all twelve of his seasons with da Bears. Granted, it was not without a controversy or two. Or three. But it was never anything gratuitous. It was never anything that tarnished and/or lingered over his reputation. Besides Kobe Bryant and Ray Lewis, who has perfect judgement, right?

Right now, Urlacher is one of the few professional athletes who can say he never went anywhere else but where he started. That he served his one and only team with the best years he had.

But let’s say he and da Bears can’t resolve their differences, and in the end Urlacher looks for greener pastures. If he does decide to play somewhere else, in a few years he might only be getting (money-wise) what da Bears would have offered him in the first place. The market for aging linebackers is a slim, after all. He might even find himself bouncing from team-to-team, still chasing the money, and still chasing that Super Bowl dream. And then, after a year or two of that, the offers start drying up and the playing time diminishes. And then what do you have?

But if Urlacher takes what da Bears offer, he’ll get to keep his spot where he has felt most comfortable throughout his entire career. He’ll also have something too few athletes can nowadays say; a legacy of one player, one team. Through think and thin. And he wasn’t even half as good as those other guys.

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