Congratulations to linebacker Brian Urlacher, who found peace and satisfaction with his 13-year career Wednesday rather than extending it beyond what felt organic to everyone -- most importantly him.
The assumption has always been that Urlacher, who turns 35 on Saturday, would play for the Chicago Bears or no one in 2013. He parted ways with the Bears in March, and on Wednesday he confirmed the latter part of that supposition. In announcing his retirement, Urlacher acknowledged with stark honesty that "I'm not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that's up to my standards."
Many potential Hall of Famers change teams before ending their careers, but few were in the position Urlacher faced this offseason. The Bears appeared ambivalent at best about his return, and if he received an offer from another team, it has not been reported. In essence, Urlacher was waiting for another middle linebacker to suffer a season-ending injury or for another team to grow dissatisfied with its starter.
In either event, Urlacher would have been nothing more than a low-paid mercenary after 13 years as one of the NFL's top players. I don't blame him a bit for feeling conflicted about those prospects, especially considering the value he placed in his statement to having played exclusively for the Bears over the years.
We'll have more on Urlacher's career a bit later on the blog, including the obvious question: Will he be elected to the Hall of Fame? But for now, let's recognize and praise Urlacher for accepting his lot rather than allowing pride to cloud his judgment.