Brian Urlacher's retirement and legacy with Chicago Bears
Following the 2012 season, Urlacher retired from the NFL after failing to reach an agreement with the Chicago Bears front office. Since his retirement, Urlacher has voiced his disgust with the offers that were being presented by the team and simply chose to retire rather than earn less than what he deserved or join a new team. At his retirement, Urlacher's 13 seasons brought eight Pro Bowls, five All-Pro nominations, and a Defensive Player of the Year trophy. In 182 games, Urlacher logged 180 starts where he recorded 1,361 total tackles, 41.5 sacks, 16 fumble recoveries, 22 interceptions, and four defensive touchdowns.
Amongst franchise history, Urlacher's 182 games are third behind only Olin Kreutz and Walter Payton. Statistically, Urlacher is one of the best players in team history, as he ranks first in total tackles (with his teammate Briggs finishing second), 11th in sacks (just 0.5 behind Adewale Ogunleye), and 11th in interceptions. For a middle linebacker, Urlacher was able to change the game in a number of different ways, as an elite tackler, as an impressive situational pass rusher, and as a stingy lurker over the middle of the field.
To contextualize Urlacher's career a little, it is truly amazing that he was so dominant in the NFL at the same time as another dominant, but different middle linebacker, Ray Lewis. These two are at the top of the list of best middle linebackers in NFL history, but they are very different in their play styles, with Lewis being more of a punishing, traditional player and Urlacher being a more versatile version of the middle linebacker.
Both players will be remembered in the annals of football history for the rest of time, but Urlacher's play style is perhaps more influential when looking at the positionless brand of football that defenses have been using over the past handful of years.
Urlacher was effectively a big strong safety-playing middle linebacker and did so at such a high level that several players have filled similar roles to great levels of success. During the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl runs of the 2010s, the team had a great middle linebacker in Bobby Wagner, but Uralcher's comparison would be closer to that of the team's strong safety, Kam Chancellor.
At 6'4" and 220 lbs, Chancellor followed in Uralcher's footsteps as a fast and physical player who can play in both the box and the secondary and is even capable of rushing the passer. Even a player like Isaiah Simmons, who was a vaunted prospect coming out of Clemson, has made a name for himself as a quasi-linebacker/safety.
After retiring from the game of football, Urlahcer's awards and nominations have been just as great as the impact he left on the game. Urlacher was inducted into both the Professional Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2018 and 2017, respectively. Away from the game of football,
Urlacher has spent time as a sponsor and spokesperson for several brands and organizations, mainly as an advocate for the American military and the soldiers, and even participated in the USO holiday tour. Of all his post-football ventures, Urlacher's affiliation with RESTORE Hair is perhaps his most iconic, and fans in Chicago today can still see billboards of a previously bald Urlacher with a full head of hair.