"After spending a lot time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made the decision to retire," Urlacher wrote Wednesday. "Although I could continue playing, I'm not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that's up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear.
"I want to thank all the people in my life that have help me along the way," Urlacher continued. "I will miss my teammates, my coaches, and the great Bears fans. I'm proud to say that I gave all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss the great game, but I leave with no regrets."
Bears linebacker Lance Briggs admitted this week that he already missed Urlacher, his teammate for the past decade.
“I didn't call the plays before and now I'm calling the plays," Briggs said via CSNChicago.com. "I just have a lot of respect ... I've been spoiled for the last 10 years.”
The Bears selected Urlacher in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft. He excelled as a hybrid linebacker-safety at the University of New Mexico and quickly became one of the NFL's best players. Urlacher earned NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, was named to the 2000s All-Decade Team, AP Defensive Player of the Year (2005), and was an eight-time Pro Bowler. He retires with 939 tackles, 41.5 sacks, and 22 interceptions.