The brouhaha over Brian Urlachers comments after the Bears' 21-13 loss to the Packers on Sunday has to be set aside and a bigger picture considered.
The final chapter and epilogue for Urlachers career as a Chicago Bear cannot be a popped hamstring late in the Seattle game and some frustrated mutterings last Sunday after watching his team lose and his teammates vilified by elements of the fan base.
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Two things here:
One is that Urlacher doesnt need (or particularly want) anyone speaking for him or whatever. But this is Christmas. Cut the guy some Yuletide line. If you need a reason, maybe just because theres enough rancid going around in the world and life already.
The media doesnt like him because hes short with them, increasingly terse as the years have gone on and its difficult to feel fuzzy toward someone you know holds you in the same high regard as lint.
But Urlacher is more than his tackle totals or publicized personal life. Ill share a story with you here, from someone I met last week completely away from football:
The same guy who said he doesnt care what fans think or say not that long ago was in downstate Illinois for family time. He had agreed to be back in Chicago to help with a friends event for kids. No money, just something he said hed do.
A blizzard hit. Urlacher was good to his word. He got in his SUV and drove four hours through the driving snowstorm, made it and was all apologetic for being 20 minutes late. He then stayed to sign things and visit until the last kids were gone.
I dont particularly care what Brian Urlacher thinks of me. He doesnt talk to me, so were even there. But the legacy shouldn't be a fit of pique on some TV show or at some podium.
The proper ending
The second item here is what needs to happen next for Urlacher.
He probably isnt going to be sufficiently over the hamstring by next Sunday in Arizona. But the Bears have not placed him on injured reserve the way defensive tackle Matt Toeaina and running back Michael Bush were.
The game in Detroit could loom as the last grasp at the playoffs, assuming a Bears win over the Cardinals. The Bears desperately need a positive charge ... like the kind that Hall of Fame center Willis Reed once gave the New York Knicks in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals. Reed was out with a severe thigh injury but stunned the Los Angeles Lakers and the basketball world by running out of the tunnel in uniform. He started, hit the first two shots of the game for the Knicks, who rode the emotion to a win over Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and the Lakers.
It wont be in Soldier Field. But Bears fans travel and have turned places like Ford Field into virtual home fields for the team.
Urlacher trotting out with the No. 1 defense, hamstring taped up to ensure he can play a couple snaps -- best guess is that not just the defense would be energized.
Count on it: Urlacher would do that for Lovie Smith if he were sure it wouldnt hurt the team.
If that turns out to be Urlachers final game as a Bear, hes earned the honor of being carried out on his shield, if he can manage it at all. And if that gives the Bears a boost and they win their way into the playoffs or more, not a bad statement for being back another year, possibly with Smith.
That is how Brian Urlachers 2012 should end. Not on a TV set.