Urlacher ending not what it should have been

Urlacher ending not what it should have been

May 22, 2013, 12:15 pm
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Barring a surprise injury somewhere and Favre’in resurrection elsewhere this summer, Brian Urlacher ends his NFL career as a Chicago Bear. That’s somehow as it should be.


[MORE: Urlacher calls an end to his storied 13-year career]

The unseemly rupture in the relationship when Urlacher spurned the Bears’ offer for a final season cheated the Bears, Urlacher and football out of what should have been.

[RELATED -- Bowen: There won't be another MLB like Urlacher]

Urlacher could still play. Not at the defensive player of the year level of 2005, but at a winning level, as he did when his up-trending game-by-game grades as the season went along. The Bears knew it; you don’t offer someone a guaranteed contract if you don’t think they can perform, because there’s a chance the player takes the deal.

[MARCH: Urlacher, Bears part ways]

And Urlacher knew it, or he would have announced this retirement a lot sooner.

[MORE: Urlacher's time in Chicago over, but legacy remains]

But somehow the right ending would have been a surprise press conference called at Halas Hall, with Urlacher, GM Phil Emery, coach Marc Trestman and even CEO George McCaskey coming in together and sitting down at a table. McCaskey or Urlacher speaks for everyone:

“None of us liked the way the last couple months played out the way they did and we all want to make this right. We all made some mistakes but we’re going to fix that right now: Brian will be with the Chicago Bears in 2013.”

[RELATED: Urlacher exit -- Could it really have ended any other way?]

Then 54 gets the North American Tour he deserves, probably gets a car from the enemies in Green Bay, all kinds of good stuff from the Detroit Lions, and something cool from the Minnesota Vikings. Exit with honor and appreciation.

Well, obviously that didn’t happen. Best bet now is that the organization will have a Brian Urlacher Day this season, maybe even Sept. 15 when the Vikings come to Soldier Field or Nov. 10 when the Lions are in town. The Packers would be first choice, given Urlacher’s work with Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and others over the years, but the Packers don’t come to Chicago until Dec. 29.

[URLACHER: I'd still be a Bear if Lovie weren't fired]

Somehow that would be a chance for fans to give 54 a farewell hug. And it’ll be a hug, because for all of the supposed disrespecting of the fans, Urlacher liked playing in Chicago. It made him mad that teammates and Lovie Smith were being booed and he lashed out in defense of his friends. This is not a character flaw.

[RELATED: Urlacher's Hall of Fame career started as a mistake]

And as Urlacher said Wednesday on “The Dan Patrick Show” on NBC Sports, “I didn’t want to play for anyone else. It would have had to have been a great deal for me to go somewhere else…

“I’m happy I’ll never wear another jersey.”