Brian Urlacher announced that he was retiring on Wednesday. Looking back on the future Hall of Famer’s career, Urlacher and the Bears was a perfect match.
When you think about the Chicago Bears you think of players like Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary. Two Hall of Fame linebackers that played with intensity that stood out from the rest. Each player had a signature that confirmed their intesnsity.
For Butkus his intensity culminated in a single moment in 1969. In a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers then-rookie “Mean Joe” Greene spit in the face of Butkus and challenged him to a fight. Greene’s did this after Butkus committed what he thought was a dirty play, which proved to be right as many players from that era confirmed that Butkus did a lot of things that would be illegal today.
As for Singletary, all you had to do is look at him. Every single time the camera got a close up of Singletary’s face you could see the intensity beam out of them like a spot light that was looking for an enemy to destroy as his eyes were always wide open.
As for Urlacher, his intensity came out in quotes like, “How great a life is this? To get to knock guys’ heads off for 60 minutes and not get thrown in jail?” Also there is, “You’ve got to be a little nasty out there.” According to the Chicago Tribune, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will remember Urlacher for just that.
“You know what, just anything and everything,” Rodgers said on the “Jim Rome Show” as he recalled about his in between plays conversations. “From schematic stuff to silly plays that might have been called. We had a back-and-forth one time where I’m making a check, he’s making a check, his voice cracks, so laughing about that a few plays later during a TV timeout. Some of the checks he would do were often very colorful. If he had been mic’d up at those times there would have been some good, unedited NFL Films stuff, but I just always appreciated the way he played the game, his approach, his professionalism and competing against him was a great honor.”
People who have played football on any level know that colorful language can be a part of the game. However, it’s usually the great ones that are smart enough to integrate it into the game.
The bigger story here is that Urlacher is one of the last of a dying breed. He was a true classic middle linebacker. However, those days are gone according to former Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix.
“The days of the Mike linebacker and the strong safety have just about fallen by the wayside,” Nix said in an interview on the John Murphy Show. “Everything has moved over. You’ve taken the Mike now, and he’s moved over. You’ve moved Will to Mike. And now you walk up Bryan Scott as a nickel linebacker, and he’s now the Will. Those guys got to be able to run and cover.”
The reason for that is due to the improved athleticism of tight ends like New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Gronkowski in 11games during the 2012 regular season caught 55 passes for 790 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. Hernandez in 10 games caught 51 passes for 483 yards receiving with five touchdowns.
With fellow Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis retiring, San Francisco 49ers Patrick Willis is now the lone star middle linebacker.
By: Paul Kasprzak