Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher had what I thought was an insightful in-studio appearance Thursday morning with ESPN 1000 -- including a response to the silly criticism of journeyman NFL linebacker Dhani Jones, his thoughts on adding receiver Plaxico Burress and some strong statements about the Bears' decision to maintain their shoddy grass at Soldier Field.
As you might remember, Jones did not include Urlacher among his ranking of the NFL's top 10 linebackers and questioned when Urlacher last "got off a block." Urlacher's response: "I think we were drafted in the same class, right? Is he a 2000 guy? I haven't heard anything about him since then. I saw him on a TV show with a bow-tie on though. So I know him better for how the way he dresses than what he does on a football field. Guys are going to talk. I've definitely had a lot worse things said publicly from guys, so I can live with it."
Bears president Ted Phillips said this spring that the he considers the grass at Soldier Field a home-field advantage. Urlacher said the Bears would be better off playing on an in-fill surface such as FieldTurf if the only other option is worn-out sod. He called the current surface "a disaster," and when asked it gives the Bears an advantage, he said: "No. You're both playing on it. The weather I think is the biggest advantage we have against teams that don't play in our weather. But we're a fast defense. You put us on that FieldTurf eight home games a year? We're going to be really fast. You put [Julius] Peppers on that turf? [Devin] Hester, with all those cuts on turf? [Johnny] Knox? All those guys. We're going to be a little better, I think. Faster."
Urlacher made clear he isn't happy about the Bears' Oct. 23 trip to London to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The game could still be moved to Tampa if the NFL doesn't reach a collective bargaining agreement with its players by Aug. 1. Urlacher: "No, I'm not excited to go to London. ... I don't understand why they do that. ... I am not excited to go to London, I will say that." I can't imagine many players would be, considering the travel involved and disruption to their weekly schedule.
We've discussed Burress as an example of the kind of big receiver Bears coach Lovie Smith has said he wouldn't mind adding. Asked if Bears players would welcome Burress, Urlacher said: "Heck yeah." He added: "I'm a big fan of his and always have been a big fan of his football-wise. ... He's a tough matchup for any corner. He's a good guy, a good red zone guy."
I'll post an audio link when it becomes available.