Following the 2012 season, Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher retired from the NFL.
With Training Camps opening at month’s end, the 8-time Pro Bowl linebacker was asked on The Jim Rome Show Friday on CBS Sports Radio if he still misses strapping up the pads and hitting guys. “No, not that part of it, not one bit,” Urlacher responded.
“I really love watching football now. I’ve become a huge fan. I’ve always been a fan, but even more so now that I’m able to watch all the college games, all the NFL games. I get the itch to watch the games and kind of cheer for the teams, but to play, I have no more desire no itch, nothing. I’m over it.”
However, Urlacher still doesn’t believe the rules in the NFL are fair to defensive players.
“They can get their knees cut, it’s ok,” Urlacher said about defensive players. “The offensive player, we can barely touch them and that’s a penalty. You get close to the quarterback, it’s a penalty. I wish they’d just protect the guys on defense a little more with the cut blocks and the crack-backs and stuff like that.”
The 2000 NFL Draft first round pick said he’d have a lot less money in his bank account if he were playing in today’s rules. “When I first got into the league you could get away with a lot of stuff,” he said. “I would have probably been fined a couple hundred thousand dollars my first five years in today’s game, playing the way I played back then.”
Urlacher’s final season in the NFL was the last year for his long-time head coach Lovie Smith in Chicago as well. Former Bears General Manager Phil Emery decided to let go of one of the franchise’s most successful coaches in Smith for an unproven Marc Trestman who lasted just two seasons and ended up being fired with Emery.
“Yeah, you go 10-6 and you get fired. That’s pretty awesome,” Urlacher sarcastically smirked. “I think they’ve won 21 or 22 games since they’ve fired him. It’s been a lot of turnover. I don’t know, really hardly know any of the guys on the team right now. None of the guys I played with are there anymore.
“Of course, I’m still a fan and watch from afar, but it’s just different than when I was there. I am a huge fan of Coach (John) Fox though. I like what they’re doing. He’s won everywhere he’s went, so I don’t see that changing in Chicago.”
In retrospect, Urlacher was asked if he felt Smith got a fair shake.
“At the end, I’d say no. We were 10-6 and the only reason why we didn’t go to the playoffs was because Green Bay lost to Minnesota the last game of the year. If they win that year, we get in,” Urlacher said. “So I think he gets fired either way, because we probably wouldn’t have won any games in the playoffs to tell you the truth. We would have been a first round one and done, but I think they fired him either way. But I bet they trade 10-6 right now for what they’ve had. It’s frustrating to go out on a high note when we felt like 10-6 is a pretty good season.”
Having seen the city’s reaction to the Cubs winning the World Series last October, the 39-year-old imagined what kind of party would take place if the Bears were able to get another Super Bowl.
“I was here a little bit, but I tried to stay away after they ended up winning because it was such a zoo. It was awesome,” Urlacher said about Chicago’s World Series party. “The Cubs fans are unbelievable. They are just like Bears fans. Win or lose, they’re going to be there. But if the Bears win, I hate to say this, but even when the Cubs are winning, the Blackhawks are winning, the Bulls are winning, it’s still a Bears town. They want the Bears to win, so I can’t imagine what it would be like if they were able to pull that off.”