Brian Urlacher forced 12 fumbles while with the Bears
before retiring earlier this season. (Simon Bruty/SI)
Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web….
• Thursday's "Off the Snap" featured Maurice Jones-Drew telling a tongue-in-cheek story about former teammate Greg Jones. Hard to say if Brian Urlacher's recent comments, made in an interview with NFL.com's Dave Dameshek, fall in that same jokey category.
Urlacher said that he'll still root for the Bears. But ...
"They better not win a championship without me, because I'll be really [ticked]."
More from Urlacher:
"I'm going for them," he said. "A lot of my friends are still on the team. A lot of my good friends, guys I've played with for 10-11 years, so I'm still rooting for them. I hope they do well.
Urlacher spent every one of his 13 NFL season with the Bears, crafting a likely Hall of Fame career. So, after the Bears opted to move on without Urlacher in 2013, any success the franchise has in the immediate future no doubt would be bittersweet for him. Chicago did advance to Super Bowl XLI during Urlacher's era, but fell short against the Colts.
Urlacher retired in May, following a brief rumored flirtation with the Minnesota Vikings.
• A veteran who has not retired, and yet is still finding it increasingly difficult to find work, is fullback Vonta Leach. The three-time Pro Bowler seemed headed to Miami in the past weeks, but the Dolphins reportedly have hesitated on making him an offer in hopes that one of their current fullbacks steps up in camp.
So, Leach may wind up back in Baltimore, where he spent the past two seasons.
"Of course, Vonta likes the Ravens," Leach's agent, Ralph Vitolo, told the Baltimore Sun. "Why wouldn't he? Maybe he ends up back there. Who knows? Until it happens, there's no sense in pure speculation."
Noted, Mr. Vitolo.
• Ricky Williams is back in football. Well, sort of.
Williams has agreed to join the staff at the University of Incarnate Word (Texas), according to CoachingSearch.com. Williams, who last played in the NFL with the Ravens in 2011, hung up his cleats in February of 2012 -- that was the second retirement announcement from Williams, who walked away from the NFL in 2004, only to return in 2005.
The Cardinals are making the jump from Division II to Division I ball and will join the FCS's Southland Conference in 2014.
• Seven quarterbacks, two retiring linebackers and one superhuman running back. That's the makeup of the players responsible for the 10 best-selling NFL jerseys of 2013 so far, reports CNBC.com
Both Urlacher and Ray Lewis are on the list, despite the fact that neither will suit up for the 2013 regular season. Joining them there is Minnesota star Adrian Peterson, who nearly broke the single-season rushing record last season.
And then there are those seven quarterbacks, with only one small surprise: Miami second-year QB Ryan Tannehill. He managed to find his way into the top 10, among the likes of Robert Griffin III, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers, despite going just 7-9 with 12 touchdown passes in his rookie season.
• The Arizona Cardinals desperately need their offensive line to raise its game this season. Rookie Jonathan Cooper could help.
The seventh-overall pick in this past April's draft, Cooper should claim the starting job at left guard, with fourth-round pick Earl Watford
battling Daryn Colledge
on the right side. What can the Cardinals expect from Cooper? WiththeFirstPick.com takes a closer look