Dear Brian Urlacher,

We first met in the fall of 2000, when you were a mere rookie out of New Mexico and I was a mere freshman at Northwestern University. Drafted ninth overall in that year's NFL Draft, you quickly emerged as a beloved icon within my dorm on Sheridan Road and for Chicago Bears fans across the country.

You were the personification of everything special about the Midwest, the consummate general of Soldier Field, and the better half of every Bromance [1] with your teammates. Unfortunately, last Wednesday, Chicagoans from the South Side to the Gold Coast learned in 140 characters that our beloved leader is departing.


But, Brian, your departure is distinct from the other icons to whom Bears fans have wished farewell. Dick Butkus (1973), Walter Payton (1988) and Mike Singletary (1993) did not leave Chicago. These icons left the game. Whether you, the management or the McCaskeys are to blame is irrelevant. What matters here is that you will be missed, and that you always will be welcomed back with caramel popcorn from Garrett’s, cheese fries at Wiener Circle and a pint in Wrigleyville. Here's why:

Your Numbers

Brian, your No. 54 jersey sold faster than anyone else's first and foremost because of your results. In your rookie season, you finished with 123 combined tackles, eight sacks and two interceptions. Following the Bears' "Defense is Offense" Super Bowl run of 2006, you reincarnated the Monsters of the Midway with 123 combined tackles (yes, 123 again) and five interceptions, all highlighted by the epic Brett Favre pick-six at Soldier Field.

During a 13-year stretch, you set Chicago records for 1,779 stops in a career and 151 combined tackles in a single season.

Your Leadership

Brian, in the 189 regular and postseason games you played in a Bears uniform, you personified leadership. You hid injuries from doctors to remain in the game, and in 2012 you admitted on HBO's Real Sports that, "If I have a concussion these days, I'm going to say something happened to my toe or knee just to get my bearings for a few plays ... First of all we love football. We want to be on the field as much as we can be."

In snow and sleet, you were resilient, selfless and compassionate –- the most cherished values in the Land of Lincoln.

Your Bromance(s)

Brian, your teammates adored you more than Paul Rudd sweated Jason Segal in “I Love You, Man.” Charles Tillman and you shared public displays of affection before Brad Pitt and George Clooney made a "mancrush" mainstream.

Shucks, Brian, you even dated women we read about in Us Weekly at a checkout line in Dominicks.

You criticized yourself before the Bears secondary, you hosted team barbeques and you even testified in court on behalf of a teammate. Your loyalty was second to none, and your sense of humor echoed Chicago’s DNA. You could have harmonized with Jake and Elwood of the Blues Brothers or shared a drink with John Goodman and Chris Farley on "Bill Swerski's Superfans" at Ditka's.

***

Brian, since the negotiations went sour last week, I reconnected with old friends from college regarding our shared memories of you. Every Sunday you helped us forget all that was horrible in our world –- from "dimpled" chads in the 2000 presidential election to a Bears offense quarterbacked by Rex Grossman. As my roommate Mike once told me, you were the one Chicago athlete our girlfriends could date.

Brian, my story is merely one of millions shared by Bears fans –- young or old, White Sox or Cubs fans, forever faithful or recently converted. In the past week, you made me reminiscent for a city I haven't seen in years, and residents of Illinois reminiscent for an athlete, management and ownership it hasn’t seen in years[2].

Whoever you decide to bless next with your bald head and big smile, please remember your Bromance with the Bears ... and know that signing with the Packers (or Vikings) will make you a Frenemy.

We will miss you.

-- Sweet "Home" Chicago.

-- Evan Fieldman is the Vice President of Business Development & Legal Affairs at ThePostGame. Born in Framingham, Mass., he is a Celtics, Red Sox and (since the fall of 2000) a Bears fan.

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