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We'll miss you, Brian

The Bears offered star middle linebacker Brian Urlacher $2,000,000 for the coming season.

He considered the offer insulting, and turned them down. The Bears thereupon announced that he would not be back.

He may retire. But he hints that he'd take that $2, 000,000 somewhere else. Trouble is, teams aren't exactly lining up to sign him; his best bet at remaining in the NFL may be as- of all things- a backup.

I understand the move. Urlacher is getting old. He was going to have to be replaced soon anyway, and he takes up an awful lot of salary cap space. Besides, Coach Marc Trestman is going in a new direction, nontraditional for the Monsters of the Midway: he's trying to build a team around offense, rather than defense. The money could help in trying to shore up the team's greatest weakness, its offensive line.

But in the short term it's going to hurt. I had fantasies of a Bears run at a Super Bowl next year with Trestman at the helm. Now, I think it's going to take a few years.

Any team that has a pattern of setting the league on fire the first half of the season and then collapsing and not making the playoffs certainly needs some major changes, and I'm not going to say that in the long run parting with Brian Urlacher isn't the right move.

But in the short run, it's really, really going to hurt. And besides- I'll miss the guy. There aren't many NFL multimillionaires around these days who play with his dedication and determination.

Or who have anything near his skill, even after playing for 13 years.


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