George McCaskey: Brian Urlacher a member of Bears’ “pantheon”

Getty Images

In a statement issued by the team Wednesday, Bears chairman George H. McCaskey paid public tribute to retiring middle linebacker Brian Urlacher — and painted a clear picture of what Urlacher has meant to the franchise.

Here is the text of McCaskey’s statement:

“How lucky we were that Brian Urlacher was a Chicago Bear.

“Brian announced his retirement in the same, understated way in which he carried himself at Halas Hall the last 13 years — he simply wanted to be one of the guys and play the game he loves.  But his rare ability, work ethic and passion for football put him among the greats to ever play the game.

“Besides superlative play on the field, he was also the unquestioned leader in the locker room, as well as the sometimes reluctant face of the franchise. Brian is a special person who represented our team and our city with skill and humility while never seeking acclaim or recognition.

“In the pantheon of Bears, Brian has earned his place alongside Halas, Grange, Nagurski, Ditka, Payton — and yes, Bill George, Butkus and Singletary.

“We congratulate Brian on a brilliant career and he will continue to be a welcomed member of the Bears Family in retirement.”