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BBAO: Urlacher's return helps HOF chances

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Shortly after he suffered a season-ending wrist injury in 2009, we debated whether Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher had done enough in his career to merit enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Our conclusion: Borderline.

But what about now, after Urlacher returned for a Pro Bowl season in 2010? In an interview with the Bears' website, coach Lovie Smith said: "I don't think there's any doubt."

Smith: "He's the face of the franchise here for a good reason. He's been [defensive] MVP of the league. I think it would help for us to be able to win a championship with him. But his body of work is worthy of being in the Hall of Fame. He's one of the [best] all-time players to play the game. Judging him against other great linebackers, I'd say that Brian is deserving."

The 2010 season certainly helped Urlacher narrow the gap. Time will tell.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times on the suicide of former Bears safety Dave Duerson: "Now, Duerson has raised the stakes. He has apparently martyred himself for a cause. And if he properly identified his symptoms, and the Boston University doctors confirm this in the next several months, no amount of rationalizing or [preservation] on head-injury issues -- past or present -- will be acceptable. The ticket-buying, TV-watching public, as shallow and oblivious as it can be about anything that disrupts its game-watching and team-worshiping, will not keep funding the future agony of athletes it adored. If the Duerson incident is as it seems, and we do not pressure it to be addressed in much more than lip service and phony studies that take months or years, then shame on us. A man apparently killed himself to be heard. What more does it take?"

  • Minnesota Vikings officials met last Friday with Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak about the possibility of building a new stadium on the current site of the Metrodome, according to Dave Orrick of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

  • Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway on the team's decision to place the franchise tag on him, via Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune: "My initial reaction is I'm excited to be a Viking for at least another year."

  • The Green Bay Press-Gazette has a video preview of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

  • The Packers announced the retirement of assistant strength and conditioning coach Dave Redding.

  • The Detroit Lions might want to target an offensive tackle in the first round of the draft, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.

  • Lions coach Jim Schwartz explains why he doesn't provide injury details, via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.