Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, who becomes the face of the defense now that Brian Urlacher has retired, talked about moving on without No. 54 for the first time Friday during ESPN Chicago's "Lunch With A Legend" at Morton's.
"It's hard," Briggs said. "It's hard because we spent a lot of time together.
"I was a kid coming out of college when I met Brian, and a lot of the older guys were ... we were definitely with the guys that were young in the '90s and older in the millennium, and a lot of those guys were jerks. Those guys were mean. I'm not throwing names out, but the bigger they are, the meaner.
"Brian was always a warming person. We related on a lot of things throughout our years. He was always somebody I can go to. And I always liked thinking I was somebody he could come to. We understood each other very well. We understood each other extremely well.
"I'm really thankful for the moments I know he went to bat for me without saying he went to bat for me. I know there were situations it probably could have gone either way. There was a lot of stuff that happened within the organization and the coaching staff ... I know that Brian had a lot to do with a lot of those moments."
Briggs said Urlacher was "easily" the most beloved player in the locker room.
"Most of the guys, football like most sports, you have a lot of star spoiled athletes and we all have big egos, and a guy like Brian who is one of the top earners in the NFL he's supposed to come with a huge ego," Briggs said. "But he doesn't. He's really a small-town boy from New Mexico that can play football damn well.
"He epitomizes the value that I have in not only a teammate but a man."