Brian Urlacher retires from NFL

05/22/2013 3:42 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Brian Urlacher was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection in his 13 seasons.(AP)
After a 13-year NFL career that included eight Pro Bowl nods, Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has decided to retire from the gridiron.

Urlacher, who turns 35 on May 25, released the following statement announcing his departure from the game on Wednesday morning:

”After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire. Although I could continue playing, I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear. I want to thank all of the people in my life that have helped me along the way. I will miss my teammates, my coaches, and the great Bears fans. I’m proud to say that I gave all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regrets.”

Urlacher later Tweeted: “It was an honor to play my entire career for the Chicago Bears.”

The ninth overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, Urlacher played 182 games over 13 seasons with the Bears, recording 1,353 tackles, 41.5 sacks, and 22 interceptions. An eight-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro, the University New Mexico product was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2000 and the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, and he was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.

Urlacher became a free agent after last season, and the Bears announced in March that he and the team would be parting ways after a new contract could not be worked out, with general manager Phil Emery saying the team would not “slight” Urlacher.

In a radio appearance later Wednesday, Urlacher said he didn’t want to play anywhere else, and his body told him all he needed to know about his status.

"I decided I didn't want to play for anybody else," Urlacher said. "I still have a ton of respect for the Bears. It didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, but I played 13 years for one of the best franchises in NFL history. I’m very proud of that, and I'm happy I won't have to wear another jersey. … Fourteen years versus 13 is not a big difference. I played all 13 with the same team and I'm proud of that."

Urlacher leaves the Bears as the franchise’s all-time leader in tackles, and his 153 tackles in 2002 stands as the single-season franchise record as well.

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