- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said Monday that as he prepares for his second Super Bowl appearance, he continues to draw inspiration from the Chicago Bears team he helped get to Super Bowl XLI.
Ayanbadejo was a two-time Pro Bowl selection for the Bears as a special-teamer from 2005 to 2007 and played an important role in helping Chicago win back-to-back division titles and advance to the Super Bowl after the 2006 season.
"It's kind of funny, all my Bears boys, all the guys have been texting me and tweeting me, and I'm like, Man, I've got you guys, I've got this," Ayanbadejo said on ESPN 1000's "The Waddle and Silvy Show." "The whole 2006 team, you guys are in my heart, you guys are on my back, I'm going to go win this championship for you guys as well."
Ayanbadejo signed a free-agent deal with the Ravens in 2008, but he still has fond memories of his playing days in Chicago and of ex-Bears head coach Lovie Smith, who was fired on Dec. 31.
"If you think about Lovie Smith and what he did for Chicago, he brought the 'Monsters of the Midway' back to Chicago," Ayanbadejo said. "He did a great job in solidifying what the Chicago Bears are built off of, that's defense and running the football, and that's exactly what he did. To see him gone, I just don't see how you are going to be able to replace him with somebody who is going to be better. Of course, I want the best for the Bears and I want them to succeed, [except] when we go there, which I think is next year.
"The Bears are one of my favorite teams, and I always want what's best for the Bears, and I think Lovie Smith is the best coach for the Bears, but other people feel otherwise. I know that is very controversial in Chicago, it's like you're on one side of the fence or the other, like a Civil War type of deal, where either you agreed with it or didn't agree with it."
Having watched future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis battle back from a torn triceps this year and return in time for the postseason at age 37, Ayanbadejo was asked if he thought 34-year old middle linebacker Brian Urlacher could continue playing at a high level. Urlacher, who's scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, missed all of last preseason with a lingering knee injury and the final four games of the regular season with a hamstring strain.
"Brian can do whatever Brian wants to do, so if he still has it inside him to do that, he'll get that done," Ayanbadejo said. "I'm sure he still wants to get a championship and make amends for what happened in 2006.
"I think if Brian wants to come back and Brian wants to be healthy, he can definitely get that done."
8hBy Ian O'Connor