In his 13-year career, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher established himself as one of the greatest NFL players of the new millennium. And when he officially retired on Wednesday, it got people thinking about his legacy. A Super Bowl appearance, 180 regular-season starts, 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 1,052 solo tackles, eight Pro Bowls, four First-Team All-Pro nominations, and his status as one of the few players to rack up the AP's Defensive Rookie of the Year (2000) and Defensive Player of the Year (2005) awards all will likely lead Urlacher to the Pro Football Hall of Fame sooner than later.
That said -- and this happens to every great player -- there are those moments one would rather forget. When Urlacher called into the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday morning, Patrick went through many of Urlacher's great moments, and then got him to remember one of the goofier plays of the 2006 season -- which may have been Urlacher's best.
When Patrick asked Urlacher, "Who was the quarterback or running back you didn't get, and you really wanted to?" it didn't take Urlacher long to remember one particularly embarrassing play against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. It was Week 12 of the 2006 season, and Brady -- who will hardly go down as the most mobile quarterback of all time -- managed to elude Urlacher in the open field on a fourth-quarter scramble. As you can see in the video above, it was an atypical play for several reasons.
"Brady always kicked our butts -- I don't think we ever beat [New England] when Tom Brady was the starting quarterback," Urlacher remembered. "He juked me out of my shoes in 2006."
As Patrick said, "Every white guy who couldn't move loved that play, because it was Brady who was doing it."
"Man, he really got me, and he's one of the best of all time," Urlacher concluded. "There were just some guys I had a hard time with."
Not too many, but Urlacher also remembered his first experience against Minnesota Vikings superstar back Adrian Peterson, which did not go well at all for the veteran linebacker. It was Week 5 of the 2007 season, and Urlacher said something that got up Peterson's nose. He soon found out that it was a bad place to be.
"We had decent games against Adrian, but the one game I wish I could take back was the first game of his rookie year. He rushed for, I think, 220 yards (224 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries), and ran a kickoff back 70 yards. At the beginning of the game, I said something ... I don't remember what I said, but I think I pissed him off. I said something about being a rookie, and he had a good game. 'Rookie this, rookie that,' and that was a bad move."
And that's one of the things we like best about Brian Urlacher -- one of the things that has always made him a rare individual. No matter how great he was at his peak (and he was spectacular), he could always be honest about the foibles that even the greatest must endure.
Former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher announced his retirement from the NFL after 13 seasons.
"After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire," Urlacher said in a statement posted Wednesday on Twitter. "Although I could continue playing, I'm not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that's up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after 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."
Urlacher, who turns 35 on Saturday, was the ninth overall pick of the 2000 draft. During his 13 seasons with the Bears, Urlacher was credited with over 1,300 tackles, 41.5 sacks and 22 interceptions, including two that he returned for touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 258-pound Urlacher was named to eight Pro Bowls, which is the third-most in Bears history, trailing only Mike Singletary (10) and Walter Payton (nine). Urlacher was a five-time All-Pro and was voted the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.
"I'd been thinking about it for a long time," Urlacher said of his retirement during an appearance on the "Dan Patrick Show" on Wednesday morning. "I gave it a couple months to make sure I wasn't going to change my mind, but it wasn't really that hard a decision."
Injuries had begun to creep up on Urlacher in recent seasons. In 2009, a wrist injury ended his season after just one game and a serious knee injury in the 2011 regular-season finale caused Urlacher to miss most of last season's training camp. Urlacher missed the final four games of the 2012 season with a hamstring injury.
The Bears considered bringing Urlacher back for the 2013 season, but announced in mid-March that the two sides could not reach agreement on a contract. Urlacher took issue with the Bears' offer, which was reportedly worth $2 million and included just $1 million in guaranteed money. Urlacher, who earned $8 million in 2012, had been seeking a multi-year contract from the Bears.
"I don't know how much was out there, to tell you the truth," Urlacher told Patrick about the NFL's interest in him. "The Bears offered me a contract, and if I had sat around and waited until training camp, something [else] might have happened, but I didn't want to do that."
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