CB Jerry Azumah is expected to announce his retirement today during a press conference.
Azumah has wrestled with the decision to retire since the Bears' playoff loss to Carolina in which he reinjured his neck, which required surgery in August 2004. He also underwent a second operation on his right hip after the season, the result of an arthritic condition first diagnosed last spring before he entered what he had hoped would be a banner season heading toward free agency.
Azumah has had some really good years for us and it is a shame to see him have to go out like this.
"It just [stinks],'' Urlacher said. "Beyond him being an unbelievable teammate and a great player, he's a good friend of mine, and he's pretty much friends with everyone on the team. My daughter, Pamela, loves him. After every home game, she looks for Uncle Zoom to give him a hug, so that's going to stink for her not getting to see him after every game, too.''
Urlacher had dinner with Azumah on Monday and said besides the physical ailments, it has been an emotional battle.
"He's been trying to come to terms with it for a long time,'' Urlacher said. "I think he knew a while back he was going to do this. I'm sure it's not easy for him -- it's what he's done his whole life, it's what he loves to do -- but he's making the right decision when it comes to your livelihood and being able to walk and all that good stuff. Don't mess with your neck."