In organizational terms, a sacred cow represents a person, system or thing that most view as untouchable. Most of that feeling comes from successes of the past. Many Bear fans are a nostalgic sort of breed, or so I have experienced, and I am myself. All around Midwest, I see and hear signs of said traditions and heritage in the prevailing culture. It is what makes Chicago a special place in my opinion. This tradition can also impede progress towards a championship if one hangs on to the sacred cow too long.
I was introduced to the notion that “sacred cows make the best hamburgers” from a man I worked for in the private sector who was a former NFL player and he held Bill Parcels in high regard for his leadership skills. My experiences that followed worked to reinforce this concept and I forever remembered the lesson. The problem begins that when a person sends a sacred cow to slaughter, the act will provoke a wide range of emotions and feelings…most of them negative as we cling past glory.
Urlacher is a hall of fame player who is winding down his great career. A career that all Bear fans, I know personally, would like to see play again for the Bears and retire a Bear….and no other team. Seems logical until you look at the dollars and sense and more importantly, the performance of the player. The goal is a championship. So does Urlacher help that cause at his age or not? Well, that depends really more on the guy that replaces him than Urlacher himself. The logical side of my brain says he is expendable and the emotional side says hang on to him as he is an embodiment of what it is to be a Chicago Bear.
The issue really stems from Urlacher’s own self-image, ego and success. Urlacher was the best Bear Middle Linebacker I have watched since Singletary and he deserves the respect and admiration of all Bear fans for his accomplishments. He does not deserve $5 million bucks for something he did 2 years ago…at least not if you want to see a championship in Chicago this year or the near future. People tend to rate themselves higher than those around them would rate…that is just a human tendency. I will forever remember Urlacher…the cattle truck is waiting and the barbecue is warming up.
Hester had a historically prolific first half of his career and then the second half, not so much. He showed signs of progress at the WR position, then not so much lately. Now, it seems, the Bears have correctly tagged him as a return man in a game that the league hierarchy does not value the kick-off play as worthy of having (due to injuries Goodell says). In the pursuit of a championship, can we afford to have a return man who counts approximately $3 million against the salary cap?
Hester, like Urlacher, enjoyed historic success. I was at the Viking game at Soldier Field and watched Hester’s last touchdown return live and it was electric. Goosebumps on my arms exciting! Soldier Field is alive when that man touches the football. Alas, you can not capture lightning in a bottle. I would love to see Hester retire a Bear and I just don’t think I will see that unless he retires early. Like Urlacher, Hester’s own self-image and reluctance to let go will likely keep him playing a few more years and asking for more money than his current team deems appropriate. Bear fans will be clamoring for one more return for the all-time great return man. I will forever remember Hester and his last return that I saw and felt live…the cattle truck is waiting and the barbecue is warming up.
I thought these two players best exemplified the concept, though in our lifetimes, there were others….Olin Kruetz, Mike Ditka, and Soldier Field itself come to mind for me as representing all things good in Beardom….and then, not so much. All things in our lives seem to be in motion and that motion is either upwards or downwards. Hester and Urlacher are pointing down unfortunately though Emery and Trestman look to be pointing upwards.
I am sad to see Urlacher move on. I fear for Hester’s future with the Bears. I trust Emery to move us towards a championship….at least for now. I smell the barbecue and I am getting hungry! Hungry to recapture the magic of 1985. Hungry for a championship. Hungry for a Hamburger. Hungry as a Bear coming out of a long hibernation!