After 13 years in the NFL as one of the most dominant middle linebackers in the history of the game, former Chicago Bears star Brian Urlacher has retired from the league, according to his Twitter account:
The veteran was a staple of the Bears defense for years and one of the most feared players to ever step onto a football field. With unwavering passion, it was clear from Urlacher’s statement that he didn’t believe he had the same drive he regularly displayed throughout his shining career (h/t ESPN's Kevin Seifert):
Urlacher very honest in statement. Says: "I'm not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that's up to my standards."— Kevin Seifert (@espn_nfcnblog) May 22, 2013
Although Urlacher struggled at times during the last few years of his career, he will mostly be regarded for his consistency in his prime that helped him earn eight Pro Bowl selections and the 2005 AP Defensive Player of the Year award.
Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp came out in support of his defensive brethren:
I like it Brain! 13 & done!!— Warren Sapp (@WarrenSapp) May 22, 2013
ESPN’s Mike Greenberg believes Urlacher deserves to be enshrined in Canton:
As one of the most feared men in football for the better part of a decade, Matt Murschel of the Sun Sentinel talked about how Urlacher embodied Chicago’s spirit:
Sad to see @burlacher54 announce his retirement. He embodied the true Monster of the Midway spirit.— Matt Murschel (@osmattmurschel) May 22, 2013
Urlacher’s numbers are incredible, as ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright pointed out:
Urlacher is one of four players w/40+ sacks, 20+ INTs since 1982, when sacks became an official stat.— Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) May 22, 2013
Brian Urlacher's retirement announcement comes 3 days shy of his 35th birthday.— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) May 22, 2013
As hard as it will be to see Urlacher walk away from football, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller talked about why this retirement hurts even more this year:
In one offseason the NFL lost two of the best MLBs of this era—Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher. The Patrick Willis-era has begun.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) May 22, 2013
CSN Chicago's Pat Boyle mentioned the dilemma facing Hall of Fame voters in the future:
This puts Urlacher & Ray Lewis on same HOF ballot.. Do 2 MLB's get in the same year? #bearstalk— Pat Boyle (@CSNBoyle) May 22, 2013
Bleacher Report lead writer Adam Kramer touched on Urlacher's incredible college career:
In college, Urlacher had 442 tackles, 11 sacks and 11 forced fumbles. He also caught six TDs and RETURNED FIVE KICKS FOR TDS.— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) May 22, 2013
While the sports world is sad today, Faux John Madden reminded us all that we need to laugh a bit and appreciate the legendary career of Urlacher:
In tribute of Brian Urlacher retiring, here's a GIF of him laughing at Tony Romo. -- bit.ly/12MIss4— Faux John Madden (@FauxJohnMadden) May 22, 2013
The Arizona Cardinals also got in on the fun, giving Urlacher a sendoff worthy of Denny Green.
Urlacher racked up 1,353 combined tackles, 41.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 22 interceptions and two defensive touchdowns during his tenure in Chicago, and while those numbers are impressive, it’s the legacy he left on the NFL for which he will be remembered.
The NFL will feel odd this year without Urlacher on the field.