As I referenced in today's Bears Den, current Bears middle linebacker/generational icon Brian Urlacher took issue with the comments made by running back, friend of Piccolo, and general all around stud runner Gale Sayers.
This has become quite the hot topic of the day, even going so far as to prompt Dick Butkus to respond with his own personal opinion. It raises a lot of questions, regarding the involvement of past players with the franchise, the openness with the media that the players enjoy, and even questions about each persons personal motivations.
Urlacher's comments come at an interesting time, as well, given some of his late-season comments about the team he plays with now. After the jump, let's take a look at some quick notes about each side of this "rift", and see if it's really a lot of bother about nothing at all.
Realistically, this story is getting a lot more traction because we're so thin on the NFL/Chicago Bears news cycle right now. It would still be big if a legend came out in the middle of the season and started calling a team out, but in the middle of a season, there's still always time to turn things around. Unless you're the Detroit Lions of the past decade or so.
I wrote about Sayers' comments when they first came out, and my position hasn't really changed. He's very much entitled to his opinions, much like any person should be. I believe, to a degree, there's some bitterness towards a franchise that doesn't memorialize it's past heroes as much as it's fan base does. He brings up some valid points, and presented them, even if it was in a manner that caused Bears brass, players, and fans to bristle a little bit.
"Does it bother me? There are enough people throwing daggers at us right now, why does one of our ex-players have to jump in? There are enough experts talking (crap) about us, so why does a Bear, an all-time great, have to jump in? I just don't like that.''
On one hand, I'm really appreciating that Urlacher has a grip on the history and tradition of the team he plays for. Some of the shots, for example, about the 1-13 season, are uncalled for. That's not the thing I'm having trouble reconciling in this situation, though. Here's what I have a problem with:
"Look, I love Jay, and I understand he’s a great player who can take us a long way, and I still have faith in him," Urlacher said. "But I hate the way our identity has changed. We used to establish the run and wear teams down and try not to make mistakes, and we’d rely on our defense to keep us in the game and make big plays to put us in position to win. Kyle Orton might not be the flashiest quarterback, but the guy is a winner, and that formula worked for us. I hate to say it, but that’s the truth."
I'm sure you all remember that quote. That's from the day that Yahoo! spent with Urlacher while watching the first Bears-Vikings matchup last season.
That's the hard part to deal with, for this fan, at least. It seems, from Urlacher's perspective, that it's totally cool to dig on someone until it's about you. I'll grant that Urlacher came out and offered clarification, ridiculous as it sounds, but it remains to my eye, a feeling of him being called out and taking offense to it. Hopefully he can take that offense and turn it into motivation, as Mr. Sayers is not the only one with doubts.
As far as Dick Butkus' input, while I'm not particularly sure why he felt the need to mention it, he seems to agree that a lot of it is a defense mechanism for Urlacher. At the same, we have to realize he's stepping to the defense of a man he's known for 45 years, against someone who's growing a shadow that stands up next to his own.
While it is indeed embarrassing, to the team and the fans, this tiff will be forgotten before too long. Assuming that they can keep their muzzles on and not bring it up.