Around the League Tweets – April 3rd 2014!

| April 3rd, 2014

ATL Tweets

Around the League Tweets has our Pro Day Monday. No Tweeting that day. Will instead display our ability to eliminate apostrophes & articles.

2 of 10. There must be a dearth of corners on market if Champ Bailey still has interest from teams. 2013 tape made 1 thing clear: he’s done.

[Side note: I love when people make statements like, “Bailey should retire now.” Champ Bailey is thirty-five years old. Thirty five! And the morning after he retires he’ll enter a period of irrelevancy he hasn’t experienced since he was about 10. He won’t be a football player. He won’t be a star. He won’t be receiving a massive pay check weekly. Bailey should retire whenever the hell he wants.]

3 of 10. Urlacher didn’t learn from Tiki. Fans ma love ya in team’s uniform but they love TEAM far more. Best not criticize em post-career.

[Side note: If Urlacher continues to complain about the organization, he’ll start hearing boos at Soldier Field. ESPECIALLY if the Bears win without him.]

4 of 10. Release of Desean Jackson far too convenient for the Eagles. Wanna bet they had say as to when the DJax gang piece would come out?

5 of 10. Dont know if they’ll gel but Giants quietly went about fixing their biggest issue: porous offensive line play. Big, veteran bodies.

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Thank you, Brian Urlacher

| May 22nd, 2013

When news broke this morning that linebacker Brian Urlacher was officially retiring after 13 years in the NFL, just one phrase came to mind.

Thank you, Brian Urlacher.

Thank you for continuing the storied tradition of outstanding middle linebackers in Chicago. Thank you providing the Chicago Bears with 13 years of incredible play and top-notch leadership. Thank you for putting up with all the terrible offenses in Chicago and still managing to keep the team competitive. Thank you for helping restore a moribund franchise to respectability.

And last — but certainly not least — thank you for knowing when it was time to walk away. The writing was on the wall already last year, when you struggled through the season after admitting your knee would never be the same. That story continued this offseason, when the Bears announced you would not return.

Bears fans’ worst fears jumped to the forefront when rumors swirled you might sign with the rival Minnesota Vikings, but that died down after they denied being interested. When the Vikings, famous for taking the washed-up leftovers of the rest of the NFC North, said no, it was obviously time to hang them up. But we all know that many players often ignore the signs with delusions of grandeur and wallow in misery at the tail end of their careers.

Bears fans like myself are immensely relieved today that we get to claim you as only our own. You played your entire career for one franchise — no small feat in today’s NFL. As a result, Chicago fans will put you alongside Ditka, Butkus, Payton, and Halas as greats that belong to them and them only. We don’t have to erase the memory of you limping around as a shadow of yourself in a strange uniform, like Bulls fans with Jordan, Packers fans with Favre, San Francisco fans with Montana, and so many others.

I am particularly grateful to not have to go through a Favre-like scenario, where some Green Bay fans are still angry at him years after he retired. Things seemed like they might be headed that way when you had some angry comments on your way out of town, but you softened your stance considerably just a few days later.

Right now it may seem like a bitter pill for you to swallow, but in time you will surely come to realize that this is for the best. You have the privilege few players ever enjoy: to go out (mostly) at the top of your game, having lead an elite defense for the franchise you defined one last time. Surely that’s better than toiling away for a bad team in a strange city for the last couple years!

So once again I say thank you, Brian Urlacher. Thank you for everything.

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Brian Urlacher: saying goodbye to a legend

| March 21st, 2013

It’s never easy to say goodbye.

Unfortunately, Chicago Bears fans find themselves having to do exactly that with Brian Urlacher. After two months of hoping he would be back with my beloved Bears for another year or two before riding gracefully off into the sunset, news broke yesterday that this will not happen. Chicago wanted Urlacher back, and Urlacher wanted to be back with Chicago, but the two sides split over a money difference.

Living legend

Brian Urlacher’s numbers speak for themselves. In 13 years with the Bears, he played in 182 games, amassing 1,353 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries, 22 interceptions, and five defensive touchdowns. He was the 2000 Defensive Rookie of the Year, was named to eight Pro Bowls, was a first-team All-Pro four times, and won the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year award.

But Urlacher’s impact on fans like me far transcends the numbers.

He has been with the Bears since 2000, when I was 11 years old. To me—and many others—Brian Urlacher is the Bears. I literally cannot remember a time when Urlacher was not a member of my favorite football team. I grew up living in Southern California and South Florida in the days before it was easy to follow your team from afar (thank you, internet!), and was lucky if I got to watch the Bears play two or three times a year. I also didn’t start following football seriously until around 2003 or so, when Urlacher was already established as the face of the franchise.

I moved to Chicago in 2006, right when Urlacher was in his prime and leading one of the NFL’s best defenses on a Super Bowl-bound team. I will never forget him matching Reggie Bush stride for stride down the length of the field in the 2006 NFC Championship Game, or intercepting hated rival Brett Favre and returning the ball 85 yards for a touchdown in a 2007 rout of the Green Bay Packers. These memories and many more will be with me forever, and I am sure the same is true for many other Bears fans.

Mixed emotions

I’m still trying to process the idea that Brian Urlacher will not be a Bear.

For over a decade now, the franchise has been defined by their dominant defense — with Urlacher at the helm — carrying a marginal (at best) offense. With Urlacher gone and moves being made to improve the offense, that identity is changing in a hurry. Objectively, I can look at Chicago’s recent track record and see that might be a good thing, but the fan in me is finding it hard to say goodbye to what I have known and loved for so long.

My greatest fear is that Urlacher ends up pulling an Olin Kreutz and settles for less money to go play elsewhere for a year (or part of a year in Kreutz’s case) before accepting the inevitable and retiring. It would feel wrong to see Urlacher in any uniform other than Chicago’s. I cannot stand the thought of rooting against Urlacher in a football game.  Although this is extremely selfish of me, I truly hope Urlacher is unable to find a team willing to pay him what he wants this year. I want nothing more than for him to retire as a lifelong Bear, joining other Chicago greats like Walter Payton, Dick Butkus, and many others.

The first reaction of many fans will be anger directed at the Bears, especially after Urlacher dismissed Chicago’s offer of one year at $2 million as “a slap in the face.” Others will surely resent Urlacher for refusing to play for less than $3 million per year. Personally, I hold no ill will toward either party. They both have to do what they think is best for them, and in this case that means going in different directions.

Saying goodbye

Even as I struggle to bid my fond farewell, I can think back on Brian Urlacher’s career in Chicago and take solace in one thing. I had the privilege of watching an all-time great player, the second-best middle linebacker of his generation, play for my favorite team for 13 years. During that time, he provided consistently excellent play on the field without creating any problems off of it. I can’t ask for any more than that.

Thanks for the memories, Brian.

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