Brian Urlacher announces retirement

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

Brian Urlacher had 1,779 tackles, 41.5 sacks and 22 interceptions in 13 seasons. (Paul Sancya/AP)

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.

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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.