Rodgers: Urlacher favorite opponent

Updated: May 24, 2013, 8:11 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

A member of the Green Bay Packers is going to miss Brian Urlacher? That's right.

Aaron Rodgers said on "The Jim Rose Show" that the Chicago Bears middle linebacker, who retired Wednesday, was his "favorite player to play against."

"I just have the utmost amount of respect for him, the way he plays the game," Rodgers told Rome on Wednesday. "A lot of memories come to mind. He picked me off a couple times, maybe more than anybody else has. But I had one really bad play in the NFC Championship [after the] 2010 season and was able to somehow grab his knee/thigh area enough to trip him up for a tackle [and prevent a touchdown]. One of my favorite memories going against Brian.

"But the thing I loved about going against Brian was the conversation between plays, between series, during TV timeouts. I just have a ton of respect for him and wish him nothing but the best. I'll miss him out there."

Asked what the two talked about on the field, Rodgers said: "You know what, just anything and everything.

"From schematic stuff to silly plays that might have been called. We had a back-and-forth one time where I'm making a check, he's making a check, his voice cracks, so laughing about that a few plays later during a TV timeout. Some of the checks he would do were often very colorful. If he had been miked up at those times there would have been some good, unedited NFL Films stuff, but I just always appreciated the way he played the game, his approach, his professionalism, and competing against him was a great honor."

Urlacher may have been Rodgers' favorite opponent, but he wasn't even the best linebacker of his era, according to ... Urlacher. His vote goes to the Ravens' Ray Lewis, who hung up his cleats after winning the Super Bowl this year.

"If I'm lucky enough to go in [to the Hall of Fame] with Ray, I'll say this about Ray: I think I'm pretty good; Ray's the best of all time," Urlacher said on NFL Network. "His numbers, guys who played with him, you watch him, he did it the right way, he played hard. He's the best middle linebacker of all time."

The Bears have produced their fair share of linebackers who could be included in the conversation, including Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary. The team took out full-page ads in Chicago's newspapers Friday to thank Urlacher for his 13 seasons with the franchise.

"Few play for a storied franchise. Even fewer write their own chapter. Thanks, Brian," the ad in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times read.

Urlacher played his entire career with the Bears, but he did think about writing a new chapter with another team.

"If I could have picked a spot, it would have been Dallas," Urlacher told the Chicago Tribune. "[The Cowboys] run our defense. They took our D-coordinator [Rod Marinelli]. That would have been ideal. But they have two really good young linebackers."

The Cowboys had been asked this offseason whether adding Urlacher was a possibility, but the team politely declined interest.

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