By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) “It’s just the loyalty factor. It’s just not there. He should be a guy that retires as a Bear.”
Former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher spoke those words about the team after Chicago and Devin Hester parted ways. Urlacher thought the team should have matched or bested the three-year, $9 million deal the Atlanta Falcons ended up giving an aging return man whose position is being systematically marginalized.
There is nothing wrong with Urlacher ideally wanting the best for a long-time teammate. But that “loyalty” jab?
People like to talk of the Bears as being historically mafia-like in their loyalty. Milking the superficiality of “tradition,” how much fans play a role in the organization as though not only their money is important, bending over backward to accommodate darn near every former player who has donned the C on a helmet, etc.
Urlacher only sees the Bears as not having done anything for him or others lately and has gone out of his way to scorn them publicly. And like the mob, the Bears are not happy with Urlacher’s lack of appreciation and his breaking the code of omerta. So they’ve decided to have him killed.
Albeit with kindness, though. The Bears plan to honor No. 54 — though not with a jersey retirement because the team backed itself into a corner with a lack of available numbers — in the near future, though they haven’t specified how yet.
According to the Sun-Times, “Urlacher said during Super Bowl week in New York that he was ‘indifferent’ about being honored by the Bears. He was clearly still upset with how he exited the Bears.”
It should be pointed out that Urlacher exited after the disloyal Bears were the only team to offer him a contract, and when he heroically gave them the finger and looked to sign elsewhere, he found nothing and nobly quit football.
Urlacher is ironically taking after a former teammate who he really never liked in Jay Cutler by putting on the “Don’t care” attitude toward the proposed honor. This after those awful Bears honored him with more than $78 million in his career.
And that’s fine. This honoring likely at a 2014 halftime doesn’t have to happen. It only will because the team thinks it doesn’t need a future Hall of Famer continuing to break bad on air and in print because he thinks he has the correct understanding of how a business and loyalty should really work. Nah, this honoring won’t shut him up. Screw this probably final olive branch by the Bears to not only put a guilt-trip gag order on him but also to bribe him with, “Hey, dummy, we throw money-making ambassador-type opportunities at former players around here, and you might want one in case your stellar TV career doesn’t pan out, so how’s about you stop burning bridges, OK?”
Those disloyal Bears. With their evil general manager, Phil Emery, who wouldn’t hurt the team’s future by cowtowing to meatballs in love with a used-up star linebacker who now won’t even speak Emery’s name in public. That darn Emery, Rubik’s cubing the hell out of this team this offseason to shore up a defense the organization was so loyal to for so long that it withered into the worst in the NFL. And bringing back team leader Charles Tillman while he’s at it. Sinister of the GM, really.
Good thing the Bears are trying to pull a sweet slap to face of Emery by having an Urlacher-fest coming up. That’ll show him what happens when you put the future ahead of the past.
And what is loyalty, really? I’ve heard it has something to do with faith. Not like seven-year contract for your quarterback faith, though. Not like then restructuring that deal to bring in a credible pass rusher who came to Chicago very much because he has faith in that quarterback.
Is it about teammates spending their offseason together? Giving up their down time to get better? Working out and taking selfies afterward?
Hanging out and bonding?
Welcoming new teammates immediately into the fold?
I’m not really sure what loyalty is, I guess. Brian Urlacher seems to know, though. Maybe he’ll explain it to us at the ceremony honoring him this coming season.
You can follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe.