Thursday, May 23, 2013
Urlacher legacy one of loyalty to Bears
By Jeff Dickerson
Brian Urlacher was a generous teammate who was liked and respected in the locker room.
For being one of the greatest players in Chicago Bears franchise history, Brian Urlacher had a lukewarm relationship with the club's fan base in recent years.
And that's a shame.
We all make mistakes, and certainly Urlacher is human like the rest of us, but the middle linebacker's accomplishment far outweighed his faults. Urlacher was the driving force behind four division championships and one NFC title, while being named to eight Pro Bowls and winning the 2005 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. He never got arrested. He never embarrassed the organization. None of that stuff.
Urlacher's biggest crime was the unwavering public support he showed his teammates and coaches.
Was it a mistake for Urlacher to criticize the fans on television for booing former Bears head coach Lovie Smith?
I think so. And I believe Urlacher compounded the problem by failing to make some kind of public apology the next day.
But if you spent time in the same locker room as Urlacher -- I covered him since 2004 -- you came to realize that he valued his relationships with teammates and Smith above everything else.
The stories of Urlacher's generosity towards teammates are legendary, especially the rookie or practice squad guys with no family in town who were invited to spend the holidays at Urlacher's house. Truth be told, Urlacher probably didn't even know all of their names, but they were welcome nonetheless.
He considered them family.
Imagine if you witnessed one of your family members get disrespected or slighted. Your first response, right or wrong, would be to lash out. Sure, a professional athlete is paid handsomely to deal with the negative stuff, but that doesn't mean he has to enjoy it.
If fans want to hold Urlacher's one flippant comment against him, then so be it. It's their choice.
But I truly hope there isn't a Bears' fan out there who harbors any ill will towards Urlacher because of his sometimes frosty relationship with the media. Who cares if Urlacher occasionally gave one-word answers, boycotted the local media in 2008 and went to great lengths to keep his offseason knee treatments a secret.
None of that should matter to a fan. And honestly, Urlacher was usually good to the media. Except for when he got injured, Urlacher was always there at his locker to answer questions after games. Not only did he start to appear more on local television and radio the last fews years, he was generally available in the Halas Hall media room every Thursday during the season.
It is the responsibility of the media to portray an individual in the proper light. I believe that. But Chicago fans have had 13 years to get to know Brian Urlacher.
You don't need the media on this one. Use your eyes. And if your eyes don't tell you that Urlacher was the greatest Bears' player of this generation, then you might want to consider buying glasses.