Getty Images for Nike
(Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Nike)
For the first time since 1999, Brian Urlacher's No. 54 will not be on Chicago's sidelines, but his presence is still being felt.
The NFL doesn't stop selling a player's jersey because he retires. Urlacher's jersey has always been a top seller, and that hasn't changed just because he's no longer playing. He's the only Bear who made the top 10 list among the NFL's best sellers. Colin Kaepernick from San Francisco has the top selling jersey.
Urlacher is also looming over the Bears because he hasn't gone into a quiet retirement. He's still in Chicago and still talking to the media. In fact, he spoke to NBC Chicago about some ill feelings toward the Bears, particularly general manager Phil Emery and the way his contract negotiations were handled.
"I just wish they would have been more honest with me. ... I wish it were more honest, and it would have gone a lot smoother, I think, on both sides," Urlacher said.
Before he decided to retire, the Bears parted ways with Urlacher as his contract ended. Few other teams showed interest in the 35-year-old linebacker, and he eventually decided on retirement.
But the retirement doesn't mean Urlacher is fading away from Chicago. He's not in another city, playing for a new team and wearing a new jersey. He'll loom large over the season.