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Brian Urlacher announces retirement

Brian Urlacher retired from the NFL on Wednesday. (Tom Dahlin/Getty Images) Brian Urlacher retired from the NFL on Wednesday. (Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)

Former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher announced his retirement Wednesday after 13 seasons in the NFL.

Urlacher linked to the announcement in a tweet Wednesday morning.

Urlacher carried forward a tradition at middle linebacker for the Bears -- following legends Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus -- and became the team's iconic player for the first part of the 21st century.

The linebacker spent all of his 13-year career with Chicago. The two sides had decided in March to split and "move forward" separately, and there were rumors linking Urlacher to the Vikings. But he decided to call it a career instead.

A safety in college at New Mexico, Urlacher transitioned to linebacker and quickly became the heart of the Chicago defense. He was the perfect fit in the middle of the Cover 2 scheme the Bears played throughout his career.

BURKE: Urlacher retires at right moment

Urlacher was Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2000 and made eight Pro Bowls. In 2005, he won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.

His productivity dropped in recent seasons as he battled injuries. In 2009, he missed all but one game with a wrist injury. He made two more Pro Bowls after that but wasn't the same dominant player. He also dealt with knee, hamstring and neck injuries.

Urlacher may have been able to latch on to a contender - though the market was reportedly slow - and tried to win a Super Bowl. But he chose not to accept a smaller role and instead leaves having only worn No. 54 for Chicago.

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