Sad End to Urlacher Era

Brian Urlacher Leaves Chicago BearsOn Wednesday afternoon, the Chicago Bears issued a press release stating that legendary Middle Linebacker Brian Urlacher will not be returning to the team in 2013. The only team he has known and for which he played for 13 seasons. The first legitimate, lasting superstar player the Bears had drafted in probably 17 years.

Obviously, this is a shame. Not a shame that Urlacher won’t be coming back at any cost. A shame that both sides couldn’t reach a fair agreement for him to play one more season in Chicago. While the Bears unfortunately have a history in this department of letting legendary players walk in a disgraceful manner (Jay Hilgenberg in 1992, Olin Kreutz in 2011), I have to say that in this case, I fault Urlacher more.

As the story goes, Urlacher’s camp asked for a two-year contract paying the player $5 million per season. The Bears countered with a one-year, $2 million offer, a proposal Urlacher called “insulting.”

My interpretation of this is that Urlacher felt he should have been paid more than this “for all he’s done for the Bears.” (This is my interpretation, not a direct quote). To me, I think the Bears paid Urlacher generously, and possibly more than the market dictated, when they gave him a monster contract in 2003, and again when they paid him more to extend his deal in 2008. They didn’t have to do that.

So it seems that Urlacher drew his line in the sand, and now what is he going to do? I’m not the only one that wonders. The real shame is, the market has dictated for Urlacher his value, and it isn’t what he thinks it is now. How sad would it be to see him hobble along for another season with Minnesota or Arizona for less than what the Bears offered him.

I was excited when the Bears drafted him in April 2000. On my way to a frigid Cubs game that day, I heard the news and was ecstatic. Later when I heard that the late then personnel boss Mark Hatley tried virtually everything to NOT draft Urlacher (Hatley wanted Plaxico Burris), I was disgusted.

After his Rookie of the Year season, a friend met Urlacher at a private autograph signing, and found him to be a real nice guy one-on-one. Then around 2007 or so, my Father-in-Law conducted business with him, got me another personalized autograph, and again said he was a real great guy.

I was disappointed the last few years when the linebacker took aim at fans, several times saying they don’t know anything and he doesn’t care about them. But in the end, that was his opinion, and on a personal level, I don’t care about Brian Urlacher either.

But he will undoubtedly be missed by us all. It is always sad to see the end of an era. From the first preseason game Urlacher played in against the Cleveland Browns, it was apparent to me that this player was going to be special. And he most certainly was.

I am still hoping that by some chance miracle, the sides work out their differences and he returns to the team on a reasonable deal. But with the ego of a potential Hall of Fame player, I kind of doubt this will happen.

Given that practically every Bears fan owns at least one Urlacher jersey, it will be interesting to see if they dwindle in the stands in 2013, or if #54 will still have a presence. Wait, since I still see fans wearing Curtis Enis and Rick Mirer jerseys (gulp), I’m sure we’ll still see plenty.

8 Responses to “Sad End to Urlacher Era”

  1. Wait..wait..never mind the Urlacher thing: Do you REALLY see Enis and Mirer jerseys???? Wow..

  2. That’s a funny comment Mike, but sad too. I am SERIOUS I catch people wearing some crazy stupid old jerseys. I’ll try to get a picture this year.

  3. So sad to see it end this way. So many great memories over the past 13 years! My favorite is definitely the Arizona comeback game in ’06 when he had (I believe) 25 tackles. He was in on every effing tackle in that second half. Sideline to sideline, he played like a man possessed and single-handedly kept us in that game. Talk about the face, heart & soul of a franchise! I can’t even envision him wearing another jersey somewhere else. Compromise is a two-way street, and I really hoped they would work something out. Well, for better or for worse, this team is going to have a COMPLETELY different look and feel to them next year. I just hope we take a step forward rather than back!

  4. First of all, I would like to say that when I visited Soldier Field for the first time last season (I don’t live in the States), I saw a load of old jerseys, some you certainly wouldn’t expect to see in 2012, but they were there. Like you say, pretty well every Bears fan will have an Urlacher jersey within their household, even us foreign fans (Urlacher is amongst my collection). So like you say, if we’re seeing the likes of McNown, Mirer’s etc let alone your more recent players like Grossman and Orton around still then you will definitely see Urlacher’s around Soldier Field in 2013.

    The only way I could see it not being too common is if he does join a division rival and start bad mouthing the Bears. Whilst Minnesota is a slim possibility, Green Bay and Detroit won’t happen.

    Where does Urlacher land?. Honestly?. Minnesota say they don’t want him unless he comes cheap. Any other team that would possibly be a fit for him are going in different directions (e.g. developing younger talent already on their roster or re-signing players in Urlacher’s position).

    Yeah, the Bears lowballed him, but where the hell does he go from here?. I’m struggling to see anywhere right now. Maybe if a team gets an injury during the season they’ll give him a look or like you say he could take a pay cut (on what the Bears offered and he rejected) to play elsewhere.

    Personally I find his departure very sad (like most of us Bears fans do). I’m sure I’m not the only one who dreamt of Urlacher’s last game ending with him drenched in confetti and lifting the Lombardi. I always imagined it coming in a year when he said “this is my final year, no matter what” and the Bears then delivered. Like Jerome Bettis and Michael Strahan. The perfect ending.

    It was always gonna happen, the Bears without Urlacher… I just never imagined it ending this way.

  5. Fond memories of this guy of course. We are the same age (I was 21 when he got drafted). The fun 2001 season, 2005 (the atlanta game), the 2006 Arizona game, the 2007 Packers blowout, and his resurgence in 2010 (would have been in the SB had he not been tripped up on the int return in the NFCC).
    He says he didn’t want put his body through an NFL season for 2M. If this is really the case, I think he will end up retiring. I can’t see him getting much more than this from another team in a tough year for the cap.
    I think he’ll get into the HoF eventually. First ballot? Maybe not but he’ll get in. Had the bears won more playoff games during his tenure he would be more of a lock, but of course a lot of this was out of his control.
    Like the Olin Kruetz situation, this sucks, but I understand the bears perspective. Hopefully things will work out better for Brain than it did for Kruetz.

  6. Brian Urlacher is legend i grow up watching same way you guys did grow when Walter Payton. I been 20 bears games and i am 20 years old. I never forget in 2000 I was 8 years old vs Lions that my late Grandpa told me before at Solider field . I was at game he punish lions sure e lost the game . Urlacher bad Bears on his back. As true die hard Bears fan and repenting bears fans Thank You Brian

  7. It was simply time to move on. I liked Brian’s career as much as the next guy, but all eras come to an end. If Brian think he is worth more that than what the Bears offered him, more power to him. Like Kruetz, he is not going to get a better offer anywhere else. If Brian doesn’t want to play for that amount, he certainly doesn’t have to. But, if he wants to play another year, then he doesn’t have a choice. And yes, he is best to shut up, but he’s not exactly been known to be a Rhode scholar.

  8. Olin found out the hard way that the Bears probably made the right call. I think they’re probably right about 54 as well. I hope, in the cold light of day, he takes time to reflect on what has been a great career and realises that it’s the right time to call it a day.

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