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6 reasons why No. 54 is unforgettable

March 20, 2013|By Jack Silverstein | For RedEye

Somewhere in Chicago, the city's newest Bears fan was born today, and that child never got to see Brian Urlacher play as a Bear.

In fact, I was 6 years old when Walter Payton retired, and I only hazily remember his highlights. Family members, NFL Films, YouTube, books and stat checking have filled in much of the picture, but there's nothing like watching a player week after week, season after season, to truly get a sense of his talent.

So if you are the parent of a Bears fan age 6 or younger, please make sure the following information is relayed:

1. He was FAST. I'm talking chase-down-Michael-Vick-in-his-prime fast. I'm talking sideline-to-sideline fast and end zone-to-end zone fast and snap-to-quarterback fast.

2. He was durable. In 13 seasons, Urlacher played 16 games 10 times. Next to Urlacher’s name on a Bears injury report, “probable” meant “definite."

3. He was smart. Defensive teammates routinely praised Urlacher's mastery of every mental aspect of the game, and said having him on the field—even not at full strength—made the defense fully operational.

4. He made plays. He retired as one of four players in NFL history to amass 40 sacks and 20 interceptions, and scored touchdowns on two interception returns, one fumble return and one fake field goal reception.

5. He was a great teammate. He worked hard, he played with focus and fervor, he was a jokester, he mentored young players, he defended teammates to the media, and he was a great cheerleader on other people's big plays.

6. He was among the best at his position during his career. At middle linebacker, only Ray Lewis was better. If you include all linebackers, add Derrick Brooks and Junior Seau. That's it.

After you're done with that, find a copy of the Bears' comeback win over Arizona in 2006, and have the kid watch the game from start to finish. If he or she still has questions, hit me up.

Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye Special Contributor. Say hey @readjack.

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