There's been a lot of talk surrounding the Chicago Bears recently and most of it hasn't been good.
After starting the season 7-1, the Bears are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons and it has had both fans and players a little bit on edge.
After being booed by the Soldier Field crowd during a recent loss to the Packers, linebacker Brian Urlacher took exception by stating that he thinks it's unbelievable that the Bears get booed at home.
Urlacher then took exception to those calling for the dismissal of Lovie Smith as Bears head coach by stating that he doesn't really care what the fans or the media think.
This, of course, led to a lot of backlash as Urlacher was vilified repeatedly by the media for speaking out, particularly against the fans.
Here's the deal with all of this.
Yes, fans do have the right to say pretty much whatever they want—within reason—because they pay big money to attend these games and they want to see a winning product on the field.
However, players also have every right to respond.
I don't really have a problem with what Urlacher said at all. He was frustrated about the loss and probably even more frustrated because he wasn't able to be on the field to help his team.
He was angry, and made a comment without really thinking about it. I get it. No big deal.
I don't really think he hates the fans. I think he just hates losing, and took out his frustration with his comments.
Besides, I wouldn't take it personally if he did mean it.
Urlacher doesn't need to like the fans. He needs to help his team win games. End of story.
Either way, Urlacher is probably nearing the end of his time with the Bears and, quite possibly, his career. This in itself is a possible source of his frustration and is understandable. He simply is not the player he once was—the face of the Chicago Bears.
Which leads to the question, who is the next face of the franchise?
Urlacher has held that title for several years, but that is seemingly coming to an end.
Typically the face of the franchise is the best player on the team. In the case of the Bears, that guy is currently Brandon Marshall. I'm assuming that no one is really going to argue this after the season he has put together (113 receptions for 1466 yards and 11 touchdowns). After all, without Marshall, the Bears would not even be in playoff consideration.
However, in addition to being the best player the Bears have, Marshall has also shown that he is personable and even has a sense of humor.
When he came to the Bears in the offseason, all of the talk was about his past behavioral issues. But he has been terrific all season in that department.
Marshall has actually been a really likable guy and has shown that he genuinely cares about winning, which is not something you can say for all athletes.
Unlike his quarterback and buddy Jay Cutler, Marshall just gives off a good vibe. He seems to have fun playing the game and there's no doubt that he plays the game well.
He has already set Bears single season receiving records for most receptions and yards, and is two scores shy of tying the record for touchdowns.
The guy is simply a big-time player.
Now, don't get me wrong. I actually have no problem with how Cutler handles himself. I believe he cares about the game every bit as much as Marshall, but Cutler just doesn't show it in the same way.
Cutler has the tendency to rub people the wrong way and that's a big reason why he will probably never be "the guy" for the Bears.
But Marshall definitely has a chance to be that guy, if he's not already.
The real problem for the Bears is finding other guys who can help him out.