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Urlacher ends 13-year career

The SportsXchange

Longtime Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher announced his retirement after 13 seasons in the NFL on Wednesday with a message on Twitter.

Urlacher walks away from football with a list of accomplishments that include an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, a five-time All-Pro and the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year award.

"Although I could continue playing, I'm not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that's up to my standards," he said. "When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear.

"I want to thank all of the people in my life that have helped me along the way. I will miss my teammates, my coaches and the great Bears fans. I'm proud to say that I gave all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regrets."

The Bears released Urlacher after the 2012 season when they couldn't reach agreement on a new contract. Urlacher became a free agent and apparently was open to offers from other teams but decided to close the curtain on a career what many believe will ultimately win him election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He told the "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 that he's happy with his decision, but did admit he believes he'd still be with the franchise if former head coach Lovie Smith hadn't been fired after last season.

"One-hundred percent, I think so," he said. "My want-to would be there more, as well. I think my desire to want to play for the Bears and still be there with his staff and my teammates would be a lot more as well. I love playing for him. He made football fun. He made our locker room fun. Our meetings were a blast, and everyone looked forward to going to work, every day."

Urlacher said he did receive a contract offer from the Bears, but the amount of money wasn't enough to "put my body through what it goes through for what the offer was."

Chicago drafted Jonathan Bostic and Kaseem Greene in last month's NFL Draft, with Bostic expected to compete with veteran free-agent addition D.J. Williams for the starting job.

Urlacher, the No. 9 overall draft pick in 2000 by the Bears, played safety in college at New Mexico but moved to linebacker with the Bears and became a defensive force that helped the Bears earn one trip to the Super Bowl.

He was named the NFL defensive rookie of the year and went on to be named to eight Pro Bowls and was the NFL defensive player of the year in 2005.

"How lucky we were that Brian Urlacher was a Chicago Bear," team chairman George H. McCaskey said in a statement.

"Brian announced his retirement in the same, understated way in which he carried himself at Halas Hall the last 13 years - he simply wanted to be one of the guys and play the game he loves. But his rare ability, work ethic and passion for football put him among the greats to ever play the game. Besides superlative play on the field, he was also the unquestioned leader in the locker room, as well as the sometimes reluctant face of the franchise. Brian is a special person who represented our team and our city with skill and humility while never seeking acclaim or recognition.

"In the pantheon of Bears, Brian has earned his place alongside Halas, Grange, Nagurski, Ditka, Payton - and yes, Bill George, Butkus and Singletary.

"We congratulate Brian on a brilliant career and he will continue to be a welcomed member of the Bears Family in retirement."
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