Urlacher's farewell tough to bear

It's a surprise when it ends amicably in the NFL, when the Hall of Fame-bound superstar finishes his career with the same team he's led for a dozen or so years. Professional sports, all of them, are big and often nasty business. But this is what the NFL does more ruthlessly, more callously than the others: discard great players, show them the door with barely a handshake, much less a hug.

At least Brian Urlacher is in great company, from John Unitas to Joe Montana to Jerry Rice to, well, the great Ed Reed. It would have been a surprise if it ended happily, though that's what Urlacher was hoping for right to the end. Just a week ago he was hopeful he would end his career in a Bears uniform but not particularly optimistic. His fears became reality Wednesday; the divorce was made final. Sentimentality is something with which the NFL is utterly unfamiliar.

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