Former defensive coordinator Greg Blache "hurt like a parent" when he learned that Brian Urlacher would not be back with the Chicago Bears next season and said he believes the linebacker can still play.
"I'm sorry that he won't finish it as a Bear but at the end of the day it's business," Blache said Thursday on "Carmen & Jurko" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "Brian is like a son to my wife and I. He and (Urlacher's brother) Casey are like my other two sons. When I heard it this morning I actually hurt like a parent would hurt for one of their children. ... I've been there. It's a business. At the end of the day it's about business.
"And we as coaches talk from both sides of our mouth when we work with these guys. We say 'Come on men. We're together. We're a band of brothers and let's fight that opponent for our organization and our city.' And all the time in the back of my mind we kind of knew the day was going to come when something like this was going to happen, when the organization was going to say 'Thanks but no thanks. Adios amigo.' That's the down side of the business."
The Bears announced Wednesday they would not re-sign Urlacher, ending his 13-season run in Chicago. Urlacher said Thursday on "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on ESPN Radio that he hopes to play for another two or three years.
Blache, who was the Bears defensive coordinator from 1999-2003, said the new Bears coaching staff never got to see the real Urlacher because he suffered through injuries for much of the 2012 season.
"With the new coaches coming in, I don't think they fully understood who he was," said Blache, who is now retired. "He had a pulled hamstring this year, he had struggled with the knee the year before. I don't think they've seen Brian as Brian. He's going to be 35 years old and he's going to slow down a step. But now he's going to be as fast as everybody else because before he was so much faster than everybody. Now he will become human. That's the thing I don't think they realize. Brian will now become maybe human, or close to it. As close as he can become to being human because he's a freak."
Blache said he still keeps in touch with his former linebacker and trusts Urlacher in knowing when it will be time to retire.
"I spoke to him a few weeks ago and he felt the best he has felt in a few years," Blache said. "He was healthy for the first time since he had the knee, he's got an offseason to prepare. I trust Brian's judgment. I think Brian will know when it's time to hang it up. The guy played 12 games this year and still had phenomenal stats. For Brian they were just average. Any other linebacker they would be pretty darn good. I don't think Brian is finished, I really don't."