Sunday, September 18, 2011
Updated: September 19, 11:39 AM ET
Brian Urlacher thanks supportive team
By Michael C. Wright
NEW ORLEANS -- Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher maintained a sense of normalcy despite extenuating circumstances Sunday, when he took part in the team's 30-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints a day after attending funeral services in New Mexico for his mother, Lavyoda Lenard.
Urlacher thanked teammates for their support, adding that playing football served as somewhat of a diversion from the tragedy he's endured over the last few days.
"I've got great teammates," Urlacher said on Fox Chicago. "They were there for me the whole time. Don't get me wrong, this was a real tough game to play today. But I went out there and gave it my all. I came to get ready just like I normally do. It was a normal day. I went out there and played."
During pregame warm-ups, the Bears huddled together for what cornerback Zack Bowman described as an "emotional" gathering as Urlacher's teammates rallied behind their leader. Just the day before, Urlacher's family held a private service for Lenard, which the team's chairman George McCaskey attended, along with Bears president Ted Phillips, general manager Jerry Angelo, and coach Lovie Smith. Linebackers coach Bob Babich also attended the services, as well as linebacker Lance Briggs.
"Just a class act by our organization, bringing those guys down there, pretty much letting me do whatever I wanted to do all week long, never putting any burden on me to be at work or be at practice nothing like that. I appreciate it," Urlacher said on Fox Chicago. "It says a lot about what kind of organization we have. It meant a lot for me to have them there, I'll tell you that much. I think you guys know how much my teammates mean to me, and it was just nice to have them around, and the organization made that happen."
Urlacher's teammates hoped to take things a step further by capturing a victory for the player often described as the heart and soul of the defense. But the club couldn't make that happen in surrendering 382 yards and three Drew Brees touchdown passes.
"To be honest, all we could do as a defense and as a team was go out there and win that game for Brian," Bowman said. "It was great to have him back, and great seeing him out there on the field."
Urlacher finished the game with three tackles, including a few crushing blows in the first half.
"I felt like for the time being I put that behind me for awhile (and) just concentrated on the game today, and we just didn't play well enough to win," Urlacher said.
Strong side linebacker Nick Roach commended Urlacher's handling of the tragic situation, saying "you would never have known he had just gone through such a traumatic thing."
"He did a really good job of dealing with (everything)," Roach said, "and still maintained his leadership role for us, which is a tremendous credit to him."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.