Brian Urlacher ensured that he would wear no jersey other than No. 54 for the Bears when he announced his retirement from the NFL after 13 seasons. Sports editor Jon Styf and columnist Tom Musick discuss:
Musick: What a career. Father Time might have caught up with Brian Urlacher, but not before Urlacher was selected to eight Pro Bowls and appeared in 182 games. Will Bears fans ever see another middle linebacker like him?
Styf: I think that question has arisen before and then came Mike Singletary, and then came Urlacher. They’ve had another good middle linebacker, they just don’t have him now. Will he be the same as Urlacher, no? Will he wear 54? Well, apparently the Bears aren’t going to retire any more numbers after Ditka’s No. 89, so he might.
Musick: Because the Bears have so many great players and a limited amount of jersey numbers, I think the NFL should allow the team’s jerseys to resemble license plates. That way, Shea McClellin could wear No. 976-LPX instead of Dan Hampton’s No. 99. But I think I’m getting off track. I doubt we’ll see another linebacker with Urlacher’s combination of size and speed.
Styf: The point is to get off track. I was thinking fractions, decimal points or QR codes. Or, more sensibly, the Bears could just have a Hall of Fame to induct players into and let the numbers be worn by all. I mean, this isn’t college football, where you can suit up two guys with the same uniform number. And I get it, you think Urlacher was great (he was). Just not anymore, so it’s certainly good to see it end the way it did. Too bad he couldn’t have just decided that himself near the end of the season. It would have avoided some unnecessary ugliness.
Musick: Wait, what is a QR code? I should have paid more attention in college. And high school. And middle school. And elementary school. By the way, mark me down as a supporter for your Bears Hall of Fame proposal. Maybe Urlacher could be a tour guide. If not that, what should be his next career move?
Styf: They didn’t have QR codes when you were in high school, or college. And Urlacher needs to be in action movies, like Mean Joe Greene and Bubba Smith. Or he could be the new Hertz spokesman. I won’t mention what happened with the last football Hall of Famer they had doing that. Or he could teach elementary school. I’ve got kids. They’d probably listen to him a lot more than they listen to me. Think Arnold Swarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop, just a real teacher, not undercover.
Musick: “Dominiiic!!!” Sorry, couldn’t help it.
Styf: Back to the point, Urlacher and the Bears should enjoy his retirement. And they shouldn’t part ways. Have him be a defensive assistant. Or even a sideline reporter for Bears.com or whatever website the QR codes in their $10 gameday magazines (I don’t know how much they really cost) send you to. Just keep him a Bear. For good.