Former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher is finding life as an unemployed football player to be much longer than he originally anticipated. Following his unceremonious release from the only team he’s played for, Urlacher has been given the cold-shoulder treatment on the free agent market and barring an injury in training camp is expected to retire.
The end comes much quicker than anyone that has ever put on the cleats and shoulder pads can attest to. In the back of your head, you always think there will be one more season to buckle up the chinstrap. But as soon as you step on the field for your first game, the NFL is already making plans to replace you.
Alas, that is the case for Urlacher. Despite his hall-of-fame resume, he will not be able to walk away from the game he excelled at for more than a decade on his own terms like his fellow linebacker Ray Lewis did this past season. The best shot Urlacher has is the potential that maybe the Minnesota Vikings think about entering the mix in the future. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for a player if I’ve ever heard one,
Prior to April’s draft, it was thought that Urlacher could be an option for teams that didn’t address their needs in the draft. But after 13 middle linebackers were taken, the number of teams willing to sign the 34-year-old linebacker with health issues went from limited to zilch. The fleeting notion that Urlacher could return at a discount for the Bears despite the signing of two veterans and retire as a Bear was quickly dashed when the team took two linebackers of their in the draft.
Many Bears fans have moved on from the Urlacher-era and were quick to call him greedy for wanting more money than the team was willing to offer, but others are still clinging to the memories they have of No. 54 in the middle of the Bears defense. Life as a defensive player north of 30 is tough when you’re looking for a new home as Charles Woodson, Dwight Freeney and John Abraham can attest.
Urlacher is in the process of swallowing that idea and coming to grips that he no longer will have the opportunity lace up the cleats. Unless it’s on the golf course, where he’ll spend a lot of time this summer and fall as a retired athlete.