CHICAGO – From one longtime Chicago athlete to another, the Chicago White Sox’s Paul Konerko gave a tip of his cap and then some to retiring Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.
Konerko, who is in his 17th major league season and 15th with the White Sox, actually says he has nothing on longevity when it comes to Urlacher and his 13-year NFL career.
“When you put that into football years, you play 13 years, let alone on one team, that’s pretty impressive,” Konerko said. “That’s probably the equivalent of 20 years, 25 years in baseball. Any time you’re in one place that long, like we both have, you relate a little bit, but I think the only thing we have in common is the people that treat you well. You just have so many memories in the city over the years where people have treated you well and that’s what I think he will remember and it’s definitely what I remember as I go through this.”
Konerko doesn’t go too much into depth about his own retirement, but he seemed to be taking some notes as Urlacher said his farewells this week.
“It looks like he’s going out on his terms, and I’m sure there is a team that he could have signed with and played for and when to camp with, or however football works,” Konerko said. “But I saw an interview with him on TV, and you can tell just by looking at somebody that they’re cool with it, and he looked cool with it.
“Any player in any sport, you’re not going to play forever. All you can wish for is that when that person is done playing they’re cool with it. He looks like he’s happy and you can tell it on his face, so good for him.
Konerko said he hasn’t crossed paths with Urlacher much of late, but did see him a few times early in their careers.
“I played in a couple of golf tournaments with him early on, maybe 2000 or 2001, somewhere in there,” Konerko said. “You can obviously tell he was a special guy. Obviously on the football field he was a freak as far as how big he was and how fast he can move. But in those times, at those golf tournaments, you can tell he was a great guy.”
Urlacher was also the prototypical Bear.
“If you have a Bears fan draw up a picture of what they thought their best linebacker would look like and act like and all of that, it’s him,” Konerko said. “It’s been cool to watch him play and now you wish him well. I’m sure he will be doing something in retirement that he wants to do and you wish him well with that.”
Konerko knows that watching football from his couch every Sunday after the season ends will be different moving forward.
“He should be proud of the career he had and he’s a legend here,” Konerko said. “As just a football fan he was awesome to watch. That’s the only downside of being a fan now is that you don’t get to see him play and run down people from across the field. He was great.”