Brian Urlacher‘s retirement announcement this week signals the end of not only another great Chicago Bears middle linebacker’s career, but one of the most important checks on the power of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the NFC North. These two have plenty of history together in playing twice a year — when Urlacher’s healthy — and having their paths collide in the 2011 NFC title game when Rodgers tackled Urlacher following an interception.
“You know what, just anything and everything,” Rodgers told Jim Rome this week about what he’s faced with Urlacher. “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 miked 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.”
The most important praise often comes from your greatest rival, and this coming from A-Rodg (yes, I’m making that stick) is the best a player could ask for when it comes to Hall of Fame ballots. To me, Urlacher’s a definite Hall of Famer but first-ballot is a sensible debate.
Rodgers seems well on his way to first-ballot status and Urlacher’s range in pass coverage from the linebacker spot was absolutely critical in his defense’s ability to limit the Packers offensively more than almost any team the past few years, only giving up more than 27 points to their division rival once since 2008.