Brian Urlacher made one Super Bowl in his 13 NFL seasons. It started off so well. Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
"I couldn't believe they kicked to him," Urlacher says. "No one after Week 8 would kick to Devin. They'd squib it or kick it out of bounds. They didn't. He scored. Then the first drive after that, on 3rd and 10, Chris Harris gets a pick. We get the ball back at 7-0. After that, it was all downhill."
Super Bowl XLI was nine years ago Thursday. Urlacher was in his prime at 28. He was the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, and in 2006, the Super Bowl season, the Bears finished an NFC-best 13-3.
In Chicago's way were Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
"That's when they were doing all the changing at the line of scrimmage, which he is still doing now, but back then, I feel like it was different," Urlacher remembers. "That's when he was throwing all over the place. We played Cover 2 pretty much the whole game. We tried to keep the ball in front of us if we could. We couldn't stop the run that game. Peyton had a good game. He put up a touchdown and like 250 yards (247 yards, to be exact). We just got ran through."
Indy put up 191 yards on the ground in 29-17 win in Miami, and Manning won the game's MVP award en route to his lone Super Bowl ring. This year will be Manning's fourth Super Bowl.
Urlacher reached the NFC Championship Game in 2010, but he never made it to the NFL's final weekend again. Retired since 2012, Urlacher is now a football junkie like the rest of us, watching games on his couch.
He gives the Panthers a modern scouting report on Manning:
"He's always going to be at the right place," Urlacher says. "You're not going to beat Peyton Manning pre-snap, but I hate to say it, he doesn't move as well as he used to. Not that he ever moved great, but you have to put pressure on him like Denver did to Tom Brady last week. A quarterback changes when you put pressure on him. They can't do as much as they want to do with less time."
Back in February 2007, the Bears had Manning in a 7-0 first quarter hole with everything going The Windy City's way. Manning clawed back in a game that will headline the Hall of Famer's legacy.
"He's one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, if not the greatest," Urlacher says. "Nothing he did surprised us. He's him. He always makes great plays. He gets the job done. He works his tail off. He prepares, so in those situations, he doesn't get rattled."
Urlacher had 10 total tackles and a pass deflection in Super Bowl XLI, but the effort feels empty.
"There's a million plays, man," he says when asked what he wishes he could have changed. "We're down 22-17 in the fourth quarter and we have the ball. We're driving with the ball. As a Bear, you're thinking, we're going to come down here and score and take the lead. They score a defensive touchdown (Kelvin Hayden ran back a Rex Grossman interception 56 yards for a Colts touchdown). We busted a coverage in the first quarter. They scored a touchdown. There was a fumble we recovered, but I thought I could have scored a touchdown on that one."
Urlacher says the 2006 Bears may have been the best overall team he played for, but it was not the best defense. He points to 2005 and 2010 as better defensive seasons for the Bears. In Urlacher's mind, the 2006 Super Bowl run was made possible by a great defense, along with "great special teams and a good offense."
Chicagoans can still see the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune headlines on Grossman in their minds. Urlacher is still defending his quarterback.
"Man, I love playing with Rex," he says. "Every quarterback, when you have turnovers or don't play as well as the media thinks you should, they're going to be hard on you. We were 13-3 and he took us to the Super Bowl. We just didn't get the job done."
In 2016, Urlacher is resurfacing. He turned heads earlier this month when he became a spokesman for a hair transplant facility, RESTORE. Urlacher, bald since high school, now has a luscious head of hair.
"People think it's fake hair," he laughs. "People are like can you cut it, can you wash it, can it grow back?"
The heads of NFL players are in the news nowadays usually for reasons not involving hair but the brain. Concussions cause lingering health problems in athletes' lives, notably chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Urlacher does not live with medical regret in retirement.
"I wouldn't go back and change one thing in my career," he says. "You hear a lot of guys say oh, I wish I never played football. I wish this, I wish that. But you really liked it when you were cashing those checks I bet. You're living pretty good now. It's a violent game. It's always been violent. It always will be violent. I'm not one of those guys who says I wish I didn't play because I love football. I got a couple concussions, one major one, but you can also get a concussion riding a bike on the street if you get hit by a car.
On equipment safety, he adds:
"I feel like they've come a long way, but how much more can you do? These guys are 300 pounds, and they run 4.50, 4.60 forties right into each other. How much can you protect someone that big and that fast? If you play football, you're going to get hurt, whether it's a broken leg or broken arm. It's a violent game."
Football critics suggest the sport may soon cease to exist.
"They might be right," he says. "The way it's going now with the way they're protecting everybody, which I get it, you're going to be watching flag football in 25 years. You never know. Even now, you can't really hit someone without getting flagged or fined these days."
Urlacher is currently working with Marriott. Marriott Courtyard and the NFL are sending Kristen Williams of Eagle River, Alaska, to Super Bowl 50, where she and three guests will sleep in a Levi's Stadium suite the night before the game.
Marriott Rewards and the NFL are sending Bill Craigle of Mechanicsville, New York, to Super Bowl 50 with 50 family members and friends. Craigle passed along the news to his guests with some help from Urlacher:
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.