By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) Some athletes just belong in certain uniforms.
Derek Jeter is a New York Yankee. Kobe Bryant is a Los Angeles Laker. Tom Brady is a New England Patriot.
And Brian Urlacher? He was a Chicago Bear.
And now, mercifully, he always will be.
On Wednesday after officially announcing his retirement from the NFL, Chicago’s soon-to-be 35-year-old former linebacker told the Dan Patrick Show, “I decided I didn’t want to play for anybody else. I still have a ton of respect for the Bears. It didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, but I played 13 years for one of the best franchises in NFL history. I’m very proud of that, and I’m happy I won’t have to wear another jersey.”
Chicago is, too.
While Urlacher’s surly demeanor toward the fans didn’t make him my favorite Bears player over the years, there’s no doubt that he’s one of franchise’s greatest players ever. And it’s good that we won’t have to see him wearing another franchise’s colors.
Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for some other Chicago sports icons. Here are five Windy City athletes who looked the weirdest playing for a team other than the one they’re best known for. I’m glad that Urlacher won’t be adding to the list.
Sammy Sosa With The Orioles
Sosa started and ended his career as a Texas Ranger and also played three seasons with the White Sox, but it was his time wearing Chicago Cubs pinstripes that the man made his legend.
Tainted as it might be.
And when Sosa was banished from the North Side to become a Baltimore Oriole for the 2005 season – during which he hit only .221 with 14 home runs – things just looked off.
Then again, so did his shrunken biceps.
Jim McMahon With The Packers
Nobody looks right wearing a Packers uniform.
But Jim McMahon really looked wrong when he wore one during the 1995 and ’96 seasons at the tail end of his career. While up in Green Bay, the “Punky QB” who led the Bears to victory in Super Bowl XX, had to have felt like something of a punk while wearing green and gold.
At least he didn’t wear it on the field much. During his two seasons with the Pack, McMahon attempted just five passes, but he did complete four of them.
Michael Jordan With The Wizards
He’s Chicago greatest athlete of all-time. But the blue-and-bronze colors of the Washington Wizards didn’t look so great on the Bulls legend when he donned them during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons.
Jordan still averaged at least 20 points per game during his time in Washington, so it wasn’t as if his stint in D.C. was an embarrassment on the court. But it’s still a time that I don’t much like to remember.
Although, perhaps we should look at it this way: At least we didn’t have to see MJ suit up in a Bobcats uniform at the age of 50, too.
Scottie Pippen With The Trail Blazers
Jordan with the Wizards seemed like a bad dream. But, to me, Scottie Pippen with the Trail Blazers almost seemed like it didn’t happen. Nevertheless, Pippen did spend four seasons playing ball way out in Portland, where he averaged between 10.6 and 12.5 points, as well as one season in Houston.
At least Scottie did return to Chicago to cap off his career, appearing in 23 games (hat tip to you, MJ) and averaging 5.9 points during the 2003-04 season before officially retiring as a Bull.
Ron Santo With The White Sox
Ernie Banks might be “Mr. Cub,” but Ron Santo had pinstripes woven into in his DNA.
However, the Cubs’ iconic third baseman also played for the White Sox. In the offseason following the 1973 season, Santo turned down a trade from the Cubs to the Angels and instead accepted one to the crosstown rival Sox so he could continue playing in Chicago.
He didn’t play there long, however. He called the 1974 season, during which he batted just .221 with five homers in 117 games as a DH and utility player, his “most frustrating season.”
It was also his last. After the season, he retired despite having another year worth more than $100,000 left on his contract with the Sox.
By doing so, Santo chose to leave fans with mostly memories of him as a Cub. Urlacher, meanwhile, left fans with only memories of him as a Bear – and that was his final great play.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.