MAN IN THE MIDDLE
This is an article from the Aug. 11, 2008 issue
The six-time Pro Bowl linebacker spoke from Bears training camp.
Dan Patrick: What did you think when you heard the Bears were choosing a starting quarterback, at least for a little while during camp, by coin flip?
Brian Urlacher: I wasn't too sure about it. But we've got two really good quarterbacks. So, whoever starts we're not going to be too bad anyway.
DP: Did you just read that from a script?
BU: No, but it's a pretty popular question.
DP: What does the success of your team hinge on?
BU: Defense. If we play good on defense, it doesn't matter who's playing quarterback for us.
DP: On November 16, you're at Lambeau. How weird could it be to look over the line of scrimmage and not see Number 4?
BU: I watched him quarterback there in high school and in college, and I've played against him for eight years. I can't picture them not having him at quarterback.
DP: Did you two talk during games?
BU: I don't have time to talk. I'm trying to get our friggin' guys back to the huddle and give them the call. I'm a big babysitter, is all I am.
DP: Who's the guy you just know you'll have to repeat the call for?
BU: Alex Brown. Every time. The ball's about to be snapped, he's asking me what the call is.
DP: Did you hear the White Sox got Ken Griffey Jr.?
BU: For real? See, I don't get to keep up with all this stuff. We've got meetings until 10 every night, and then we go to bed.
DP: No newspapers there?
BU: I'm not a newspaper guy.
DP: Are you a book guy?
BU: I've got my playbook. That's what I do.
DP: The last book you read?
BU: I read The Rock's book seven years ago. I'm a fan of The Rock.
DP: Could you see Favre in a Bears uniform?
BU: No. I don't see how that would be possible. We're in the division. And we've got two good quarterbacks as it is.
DP: Here we go with that again. If the Vikings ended up with Favre, would they be the favorites to make the Super Bowl in the NFC?
BU: Nope. We are.
DP: Wait. You think the Bears are the team to beat in the NFC? Hey, you just woke up, Brian. Maybe you....
BU: No, I'm a morning person. I'm thinking straight. Everyone's 0 and 0 right now. Who doesn't think they're the team to beat?
IS THERE ANY TEAM in the NFL with more of a cast of characters than the Dallas Cowboys? Among the lead actors you've got:
• Tony Romo (right), he of the tabloid romances.
• The always tempestuous Terrell Owens (left).
• Adam Jones, the league leader in "character issues," on a quest to put the Pacman Era behind him.
• Tank Johnson, another redemption project.
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT Jerry Jones—a character himself—is that while most owners would want to place such players under cones of silence, he invites the HBO reality series Hard Knocks to training camp and says, "Here's our dirty laundry, get a good picture." This is smart. I think Jones is preparing his players for what he expects will be a season under a harsh spotlight. Get through this, and it's a step toward a bookend event: Super Bowl media day in Tampa.
Blessing of a Broken Curse
CONTENDING TEAMS that make deadline deals often do so with a sense of desperation—they're going all in for this season. Boston's trade of Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers last week was the exact opposite of a desperation deal. After winning two World Series in the last four seasons, the Red Sox have a comfort zone that allowed them to trade Manny for clubhouse peace, plus Jason Bay. I think Boston can win with Bay, but believe me, if the Curse were still hanging over Red Sox Nation, the Sox would have continued to allow Manny to be Manny.
Next Splurge: Fuzzy Dice
SO MANY athletes go bankrupt simply because they spend money as fast as it comes in. Here's a guy who I don't think will join their ranks. Chris Long, the number 2 pick in the NFL draft, signed a contract with the Rams last week that reportedly guaranteed him $29 million, including an immediate $2 million bonus. Afterward I asked him if he had treated himself to anything; he said he had bought a 1983 Mercury Grand Marquis. For $4,000. Sweet. And he's still got $28,996,000 to play with.
THE FINE PRINT: Just wondering: Who won the rights to be the official censored Web browser of the Olympics?
Go to DANPATRICK.COM for more from Brian Urlacher and other recent interviews, and hear live audio of Dan's radio show, 9 a.m. to noon ET, Mon.--Fri.