He didn’t play.
Telander is correct. Brian Urlacher did not play in the Bears most recent preseason game. This is the last factual and sensible thing you'll see in this article.
And the question is: Can he play?
No, Rick. The question is when he will play. Which nearly everyone with any degree of medical knowledge agrees will be sometime within the next month at the latest. I mean the guy was practicing and running around at traning camp less than a few weeks ago. I don't think the surgery somehow made things Worse.
Brian Urlacher may be the heart of the Bears, but if the pump in the middle of the machine is busted, you either fix it or get a new one.
Or if that heart happens to be a future hall of famer with a swollen knee who just had an operation to fix said knee and is projected to be back soon, maybe you just duct tape that shit and wait for the part to get back in operation. You don't chuck him overboard because he may miss some regular season time for just the second time in his 12 year career.
Nick Roach filled in for Urlacher at middle linebacker against the New York Giants — doing what he has been doing this preseason — and was . . . OK.
One play stood out early on. It was a sweep that Giants running back David Wilson took around left end for 15 yards. Roach was blocked to the ground on the play.
Then, early in the second quarter, Roach broke up a pass from Eli Manning to running back Henry Hynoski, and the Giants were forced to punt. Nice job.
Acceptable backup starter played like acceptable backup starter. Thanks, Rick.
But is this what it’s come down to: Nick Roach for Brian Urlacher? Six-one, 234 pounds for 6-4, 258? Good for superior? Steady for Hall of Fame?
What has what come down to? No one but you is trying to make this a decision. Nick Roach is just there until Urlacher gets back. Everyone else but you says he's coming back. This isn't a choice. This is just a temporary solution, you moron.
Sure, you can say such speculation is premature. Urlacher just needs more time to rehab his injured left knee. He’ll be fine by the season opener, 14 days from now, at Soldier Field against the Indianapolis Colts.
Premature was't the word I had in mind. Asinine? Paranoid? Attention-whoring headline from a hack writer desperate for material? Damn. That's more than one word.
That’s what Urlacher has been saying. That’s what coach Lovie Smith has been saying. That’s what teammates have been saying.
But how do they know?
Probably beacuse they see him daily. Or have access to his medical records. Or to the doctors who've operated on him and given a timetable. You know, people who have actual information as opposed to shit-brained columnists trying to make a stir by playing on the paranoid fears of meatball fans.
You don't know that. You have absolutely no evidence to support this idea that Urlacher is concealing evidence that he'll be unable to play this year. God, I hate you.
And here’s the thing. The Bears have to decide no more than 13 days from now — the Saturday before that opener — if Urlacher is all that he’s supposed to be, all that he once was, or at least a good-enough replica of his eight-time Pro Bowl self that he can hold down his expensive spot in the middle.
That Saturday, Sept. 8, is the last day the Bears could release Urlacher and be off the hook for his $7.5 million 2012 salary. Keep him until Sunday and they owe him everything.
Or you know, whether to decide on starting him week one or waiting until week two. That feels like a far cry from deciding whether or not to toss the best Bears player of the last twenty years beacuse his knee injury might force them to play Nick Roach for a couple of games.
You could say, what’s the harm in just keeping the guy, no matter what? He’s been a great leader, a great representative at the position the Bears are known for, middle linebacker, the position of Bill George, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary?
Or, instead of keeping him as a symbolic gesture they keep him because the idea that he'll be unable to start all season goes against all of the information they've been given by medical professionals and Urlacher himself, rather than, say...you?
And you would have a point.
Thank you. You do not.
But $7.5 million is a lot of cap space. It’s money that can’t go to free agents. It’s money that can’t be used to tie up quarterback Jay Cutler for more years.
It's money they're committed to for just this year. I don't think there are any free agents out there in fucking August that they're going to need 7.5 mildo of cap room to spend on. I also know that Cutler's contract runs through 2013 and an extension would start next year, not this year, so that has absolutely no bearing on the situation. Let's just make shit up at this point, Rick.
People, this is a bottom-line business. If the 34-year-old Urlacher can’t regain his speed and sideline-to-sideline range and his drop-back quickness, he becomes a very nostalgia-laden, shiny-headed cheerleader.
Fair point. But there's no reason to believe, until we see him on the field, and again, EVERY OTHER PERSON WITH ACTUAL INFORMATION SAYS WE WILL, that he can't. He made the goddamn Pro Bowl last year. Cutting him for a slowly-healing knee sprain would be epically stupid even for an organization that had an ironclad grip on worst personnel decisions in their division until Matt Millen bumbled in.
All the secrecy and irritability emanating from questions about Urlacher’s healing knee have made Halas Hall seem like more of a closed camp than usual.
There's no secrecy involved. The irritability comes from conversations like this:
Rick Telander: Will Urlacher be ready for the opener?
Lovie Smith: We hope so. The doctors told us that was a realistic timetable. Nick Roach had a scope done in 2010 and came back in 2 weeks, so there's precedent. This was a minor operation and Brian had been taking part in practice before it happened.
Rick Telander: So you're saying you have no idea whether or not Urlacher will be available at all this season and you're considering cutting him?
Lovie Smith: What the fuck is wrong with you?
Rick Telander: *eats paste*
Smith is halfway in love with Urlacher, and releasing him would be akin to taking his favorite dog and shooing it off a cliff. Indeed, the very thought of it ending like this for Urlacher in Chicago is painful.
Or cutting the best player on his defense over the last decade because he might miss one, or even two games. The thought of Urlacher's career ending like this is not only painful, but horrifying, as it would mean the front office was run by a bunch of panicked, ill-informed idiots who piss in the face of reliable medical information.
But how is that knee?
We don’t know.
He's right. The only logical answer is that it can only be horrible and irreperable and we must get rid of him. You didn't come to that conclusion? Would you like to try some of this paste?
The best answer is, not good. Eight months of rehab for a bad sprain? A secret trip overseas to — maybe or maybe not — get blood-cell therapy? Arthroscopic debridement surgery two weeks ago?
Okay. The mysterious trip to Germany is odd, I'll grant you that, but Kobe supposedly had the same operation and missed no time. There's nothing to suggest that that would slow his rehabilitation. And calling a scope by it's full name to make it sound more terrifying doesn't actually make it anything more than the routine operation that football players have all of the time and return from in a matter of weeks. This, again, is a Telander scare tactic.
And then, what, the guy is supposed to come back with barely any team practice and no game time-ups and lead the way?
Barely any team practice? He participated in the first two weeks of camp. He had a full offseason of rehab and workouts. Only Rick Telander would assume that Brian Fucking Urlacher would fall completely out of shape and forget the defense he's played in for nine years in a matter of weeks.
Urlacher will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, which means he could go anywhere he wants for whatever he could wrangle. And he could just continue rehabbing and take his Bears millions this season.
Yes, Urlacher has just one year left on his deal, meaning the team can easily part with him with no hard feelings should he be unable to fully return from his injury this year. That's a good thing. He may come back completely fine within the next few weeks and sign a team friendly extension to end his career in the right place. Instead, just cut him now because they need that money for....well, nothing. Surely they need the roster spot! Oh, they can IR him whenever they want if this should somehow turn into a season ending injury? Only Telander's scenario would result in bad blood and horrible press for the Bears, so of course he, the guy who would be quickest to pounce on them if they followed his own advice, wants them to do it.
Oh, and of course Urlacher would just rehab and swindle money from the Bears so he can focus on his next contract. It's always a good idea to miss an entire season in order to boost your stock in free agency.
Yes, he wants to play. And, yes, he came back from that serious wrist injury three years ago — the one we thought might ruin him — and has been a rock. Indeed, except for that 2009 season, Urlacher has started 96 straight games over seven years.
Always good to throw in points that completely contradict your agument, folks. Take notes.
But so what?
What about this convenient note that completely contradicts my "Brian Urlacher is fragile and used up" narrative? I should never have even put it in here!"
Bottom line, baby.
The bottom line? You mean like the salary cap completely unaffected by money already committed to
In fact, this is a poker hand combined with high-stakes chicken.
Over here you’ve got Urlacher. Over there you’ve got first-year general manager Phil Emery.
Urlacher’s good at bluffing. Rookie Emery, well, what do you think?
I think Emery probably pays Urlacher's doctor, and knows the actual status of his knee. Only Telander assumes that Urlacher can just say "knee's fine!" and the Bears won't ask to see his medical records or an MRI or anything that would validate or invalidate what he says.
Would you have the stones for your signature move to be releasing the greatest Bears linebacker of the last quarter-century? Would you be soft enough to keep him if he’s done? While realizing nobody will know if you’re right, either way, for months or years?
Or you could just keep him on the roster and find out, since, again, the 7.5 million he's owed has never factored in their plans nor would it. In fact, the floor is now set at 90% of the cap, so the Bears would arguably have to overpay someone else to make up the money from cutting Urlacher. Brilliant!
Imagine No. 54 retiring. Imagine him starring again for the Bears. Imagine him as a Green Bay Packer. Gag at the thought.
Where? What? How?
But anything’s possible when your cards are down and nobody knows what’s in the hole.
I'm willing to bet the Bears know what's going on. The only person here who seems to belong in a dark, miserable hole from which no one should ever emerge is you, Rick. Please, stop playing doctor or writing.