The announcement caught many by surprise this morning when it ignited across the Twittersphere. Brian Urlacher was hanging it up after an illustrious thirteen year career with the Chicago Bears.
Originally drafted ninth overall by Chicago out of the University of New Mexico, Urlacher burst onto the scene as a rookie, playing in all 16 of the Bears games that season, while starting 14. His rookie year ended with eight sacks, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and 125 tackles, numbers which would only hint at the player Urlacher would become. While his sack numbers never again equalled his rookie total, Urlacher remained a tackling machine throughout his career, and he had an uncanny knack for coming up with a big play to lift the Chicago faithful and his teammates alike when they most needed it.
As a four-time First Team All-Pro, Urlacher established himself as the premiere middle linebacker of his generation. Over the course of his 13 year career, Urlacher made eight pro bowls, and started 180 games, anchoring the middle of a fearsome Chicago defense throughout the 2000s.
A sure-fire Hall of Famer, Urlacher ends his career as the Bears all-time leading tackler with 1,358 tackles, 41.5 sacks, and 22 interceptions. Urlacher is one of only four players in NFL history to have over forty sacks and 20 interceptions, joining the elite company of Wilbur Marshall (45 and 23), Seth Joyner (52 and 24), and the also recently retired Ray Lewis (40.5 and 31).
Carrying on the tradition that had been established by All-Time greats Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus was no easy feat, but one that Urlacher accomplished with style and class, and he truly deserves to be considered one of the Monsters of the Midway.
Crabtree's Injury increases Boldin's value
Reports out of San Francisco were not good in regards to the health of their number one wide receiver Michael Crabtree on Wednesday. Early indications are that Crabtree suffered a torn achilles tendon during OTAs and is lost for at the very least the entire regular season, and likely all of the 2013 campaign.
The injury comes as a devastating blow to a team that is looking to build upon their success in 2012, when the team made a Superbowl appearance under first year head coach Jim Harbaugh. Last season Crabtree and Randy Moss were at the top of the receivers depth chart, and now that San Francisco has chosen to let Moss go, neither player will be suiting up in the Crimson and Gold this season.
The one solace that Niners fans can take from the injury is that Anquan Bolden just became an even bigger steal for San Francisco, who acquired him from the Baltimore Ravens for a sixth round raft pick in the offseason. Boldin will now enter training camp as the undisputed number one wide receiver on a championship caliber team for the second straight season.
For those of you looking at how this injury may shape the season for fantasy football, remember that the 49ers do have one of the games most dynamic tight ends in Vernon Davis, and Frank Gore, despite his age, is still a viable receiving threat out of the backfield. Former free agent acquisition Mario Manningham may see the most increased value at receiver if he continues to rehab on time from an ACL injury suffered last season. 2012 first round pick A.J. Jenkins also stands to see increased playing time as a result of Crabtree's Achille.
While the 49ers receiver depth may not look too promising at the moment, there is still plenty of time before training camp, and we all know Terrell Owens is still out there...
QB Numbers to Consider before Making your Super Bowl picks
Did you know that in that last twenty years only three quarterbacks over the age of 35 have made Super Bowl appearances? Only one of those three, John Elway with the Broncos in 1997 and 98 won his big game appearances. Kurt Warner and Rich Gannon were both 37 in their Super Bowl losses in 2008 and 2002 respectively.
After Elway the next oldest QBs to win a title are Brad Johnson (34) and Steve Young (33). In fact in the last ten years, no Superbowl winning quarterback has been over the age of 31, and the three quarterbacks to make Superbowl appearances that were over 31 all lost (Tom Brady (34), Peyton Manning (33) and the aforementioned Warner).
Over the last decade the mean age of Super Bowl winners has been 27.6, and 10 of the last 20 Super Bowl winners have been between the ages of 26-28. Of the projected starters in the NFL this season, their are only six quarterbacks who fall into the optimal age range to win a title: Andy Dalton (26 in Oct), Matt Flynn (28), Colin Kaepernick (26), Matt Ryan (28), Mark Sanchez (27), and Matthew Stafford (26 on Feb 7th).
So While Vegas may like the chances of Brees, Brady, and Peyton Manning, Ill be putting my money on Dalton and the Bengals to win it all this year over Matt Ryan's Falcons.