Tags: brian urlacher | retires | chicago | bears | linebacker
Image: Brian Urlacher Retires as Chicago Bears Linebacker After 13 Seasons

Brian Urlacher Retires as Chicago Bears Linebacker After 13 Seasons

By Clyde Hughes   |   Wednesday, 22 May 2013 01:46 PM

The Chicago Bears Brian Urlacher, who continued the team’s tradition of great middle linebackers, announced his retirement via Twitter Wednesday rather than trying to connect with another NFL team.

With Chicago’s new head coach Marc Trestman in the fold, the Bears and Urlacher hit a snag in contract negotiations in March and announced they would go their separate ways. Urlacher played 13 seasons for the Bears, winning various honors along the way.

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“After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire,” Urlacher wrote in a statement according to the Chicago Tribune. “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 a 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 entered the league as an immediate star, racking up eight sacks as the 2000 Defensive Rookie of the Year. He won the 2005 AP Defensive Player of the Year, and was the key player during a dominant stretch for former Bears coach Lovie Smith's defense. Urlacher made four first-team All Pro teams, a sign of a player at the very top of the game.

Urlacher's foot speed rapidly diminished in 2012 because of a knee injury and he struggled to find interested suitors in free agency this offseason after he couldn't come to terms with the Bears, said Greg Rosenthal of NFL.com. Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowler, was only one season removed from a resurgent 2011 campaign.

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Urlacher carried forward a tradition at middle linebacker for the Bears — following legends Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus — and became the team’s iconic player for the first part of the 21st century. A safety in college at New Mexico, Urlacher transitioned to linebacker and quickly became the heart of the Chicago defense. He was the perfect fit in the middle of the Cover 2 defense the Bears played throughout his career.

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