Saturday, May 22, 2010

Take A Number, Brian Urlacher

While Brian Urlacher singlehandedly takes on the Bears' tradition, even calling out Sid Luckman from beyond the grave to go toe-to-toe and decide who smells better, he really oughta chew on this: Brian Urlacher is the fourth-best middle linebacker in Bears' history tops. He may be down as low as eighth, depending on your flexibility and sense of history.

Let's just all calm down and think about this for a second. Who's he gonna beat out: Bill George, who invented the position -- and, yes Brian, he won a championship? Dick Butkus, who dominated the position the way a pit bull dominates a dog park, championship or no? Mike Singletary, who turned his back on a lucrative career in spoon-bending and instead brought his unrelenting intensity to the middle of one of the best defenses ever -- a defense which practically won a Super Bowl unassisted? Right. How about one of the big HOFers who played the position back when it was more of a middle guard? Brian Urlacher better than Bulldog Turner? Better than George Trafton? Better than Link Lyman? And all those guys won more championships than Brian Urlacher has had injury-free seasons.

Urlacher was an irresistible combination of speed and aggressiveness his first few years in the league and has become way more resistible over time. I'm sure he'd like to think he's a sure HOFer, and one of the top 50 linebackers ever, but his closest career comps according to Pro Football Reference are Greg Lloyd and Pat Swilling, and their HOF bandwagons still have training wheels. At best -- at best -- Urlacher is Zach Thomas with better recall. But what Urlacher needs to recall, and the sooner the better, is that about a dozen of the linebackers better than him are Bears. And always will be.

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