But last year he remained one of football's best linebackers. If he doesn't lose much more, letting him walk would be bad for business. And karma.
We've all had that sinking feeling, the "What was I thinking?" moment when we look at an old photo and can't believe we appeared in public looking that way.
- PHOTOS: Photo gallery: Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher
- Reward over risk
- PHOTOS: Photo gallery: Bears OTAs at Halas Hall
1920 Football Dr, Lake Forest, IL 60045, USA
Soldier Field, 1410 S Museum Campus Dr, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
As we start a new decade, let's take a look at some recent fashion and style trends — those worth keeping and the ones whose searing images cry out for a bonfire.
The single worst idea in many decades was the notion that grown women should show off their naked stomachs.
Low-slung jeans gave even the skinniest women an unsightly muffin top spillover.
Pairing these with a crop top that stops above the belly button has fashion disaster written all over it.
The proliferation of jean options in the last decade is a huge and welcome development for women of all ages. But at what cost? Besides the bare belly problem, can any pair of dungarees be worth $400? Nope.
Pee-wee Herman suits
It wasn't just women who went bad. The shrunken men's suit popularized by designer Thom Brown was hard to take seriously. But Jay-Z and other celebrities known for their immaculate menswear are signaling a turn to more formal dressing for men. And that's a good thing. Jeremy Gutsche, founder of trendhunter.com, predicts we'll see men's "half formal dressing," sprucing up traditional business casual with blazers, bow ties and the like. But khaki pants with blue shirts are here to stay. Alas, forever.
The Olsen twins could get away with the "bohemian" (bag lady) look — appearing as though they are being devoured by their droopy clothes and massive purses. "They can look bummy because they're not bums. When you're billionaires, you can look any way you want," says Kathryn Finney of budget fashionista.com. For the rest of us: Forget it. More streamlined fashion with artisan touches such as embroidery, beading and fringe is a better choice in 2010.
The model is in Baltimore, where 37-year-old Ray Lewis does more than lead the Ravens in tackles every year.
He leads them in many ways. In preparation. In intensity. In direction.
Lewis is not the player he was either. In fact, he may not be the player Urlacher is at this stage. But he still is in the upper echelon. And the Ravens recognize he has a value to their team and their franchise that goes beyond stopping opposing running backs — that's what makes their relationship remain viable.
Lewis has aged exceptionally well. Urlacher might not.
But it is not unheard of to see extraordinary players — even big-hitting linebackers — make their value last longer than the average player, assuming they can stay healthy.
Bears Hall of Famer Bill George played until he was 37, though he finished up with the Rams. Junior Seau lasted until 40. Kevin Greene made it to 39. And Derrick Brooks lasted to 35.
It is possible Urlacher could keep going strong for another four or five years. And even if his play declines a bit, keeping him happy would be a boon for the team, the locker room and the Bears brand.
This is how it should end — Brian Urlacher Day at Soldier Field.
Speeches. Testimonials. Proclamations.
A large gathering of former teammates standing behind him. His children in his arms and by his side.
A jersey in a frame. A parting gift with lots of chrome and a big engine.
A standing ovation from nearly 64,000 people, many of whom are wearing his number. And applause. Long, heartfelt applause.
His reign as a Bear should end with Urlacher shedding a tear, but not one of disenchantment.