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Brian Urlacher on Retirement, Bears Fallout, Jay Cutler and His Tattoo Snafu

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I sat down with Former NFL linebacker, Brian Urlacher, at his home in the Chicago suburbs. The interview is for the second episode of In Depth. Urlacher played his entire NFL career for the Chicago Bears until negotiations for a new contract failed at the end of the 2012 season. This prompted him to announce his retirement in May of 2013. Urlacher describes what happened with the negotiations and why he was so upset with the way it ended. He offers his take on his relationship with former quarterback Jay Cutler. Urlacher also vents his frustrations with the media and the perception from critics that he should have been more intimidating on the field. The future Hall of Famer goes on to share memories of his childhood which include cruising the streets for girls with his best friend and drinking chocolate milk (because they made a pact to avoid alcohol in high school). Urlacher also tells the funny story of the barbed-wire tattoo he got around his arm that he couldn't finish because it hurt too much.

Highlights:

There have been numerous rumors of tension between Urlacher and his former quarterback, Jay Cutler. Urlacher says Cutler is the only teammate that has not reached out since Urlacher retired. "Well, I did not hear from Jay, out of all the guys I played with, but that's just - maybe we weren't as close as, like you said as we could have been. That's just the way to let you know where you stand with people."


When the two sides could not reach an agreement, Urlacher says the Bears had a statement ready, almost immediately. I ask, "From the time your agent hung up the phone telling the Bears that you weren't going to accept the counteroffer that they had made, how quickly did they make a press release after that?" Urlacher responds, "... they released it 30-seconds after we got off - my agent hung the phone up and it was out because my phone started blowing up right when - right after I got off the phone with him." I then said, "When you saw that Tweet or the press release, what was your immediate reaction" Brian Urlacher: Well, I just knew that they knew, in the back of their minds, they didn't want me back."


Urlacher may be an imposing 6'4 and 250 lbs, but he tells the funny story about why his tattoo fails to go all the way around his arm: "It hurt like hell, man." Urlacher eventually tells the tattoo artist to stop. "I was only 18. I wasn't very tough back then. So I didn't get it finished."


Often compared to iconic Bears' legends Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary, the media sometimes questioned Urlacher's meanness, saying that he was not "intimidating." I asked Urlacher directly: "Do you scare guys, Brian?" Urlacher responds, "I could give a crap. I can tackle guys. I know that much... Maybe because I'm not a jerk, I think... I'm not going to be a jerk when I'm out there. I never have been."


Urlacher also explains his complicated relationship with the media and describes the situation that angered him the most. "I had a situation when my son was born with the media, and they put my son's picture on the front page of the paper. And that really pissed me off." Urlacher continues "I didn't think he deserved that and he - it wasn't his fault. He didn't ask to be in that situation. Put my picture on there not his but that really made me mad with the way they handled the whole situation with my son and me going back and forth to court with his mother."


Urlacher was asked about the sudden loss of his mother in 2011, and how he found out about her passing. "I remember the day...I had one of the best games I'd played in a while," Urlacher recalls. "And Tuesday, I came home from work...And I got a call from one of her neighbors telling me what happened, and I didn't believe them. I said, 'Shut the F up.' I thought someone was playing with me. ...One of her really good friends was her neighbor, and they ended up finding her in her house."


Urlacher explains why being remembered as a good teammate is most important to him: "The guys trust me for some reason. I feel like I was a good teammate, and that's how I want to be remembered. All the other stuff, playing, winning games, losing games, whatever, that's never really been an issue, but I want to be remembered as a good teammate and a guy that my teammates could count on."

Brian Urlacher discusses overcoming the serious injuries he sustained while playing with the Chicago Bears.

Brian Urlacher recalls his 26 tackles on Monday Night Football against the Arizona Cardinals, but still laments the one he missed.

Brian Urlacher admits that playing many positions on both sides of the ball made him an NFL football player.

Brian Urlacher describes how he gives back to his high school and helps underprivileged families at Christmas time.

Brian Urlacher shares his opinion on NFL rule changes designed to protect offensive players and the effect concussions have had on him.

Brian Urlacher talks about his home and his wide variety of animals on his 13-acre property.

Brian Urlacher takes a question from Terrell Owens.

Graham Bensinger's Facebook page is facebook.com/GrahamBensinger and his website is GrahamBensinger.com. Follow Graham on Twitter @GrahamBensinger. Email Graham at Graham@GrahamBensinger.com.

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