CHICAGO - Viikings fans who hoped a longtime North Division nemesis would be donning purple can stand down.
All-Pro linebacker and longtime Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher will not play for another team.
The middle linebacker announced Wednesday morning he will retire rather than continue his NFL career. Urlacher's contract with the Bears expired in March, and he and the team could not come to agreement on a new deal.
"Although I could continue playing, I'm not sure I would bring a level of performance of passion that' sup to my standards," said in a statement posted to his Twitter account. "When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after a 13 year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear."
Urlacher, who will turn 35 later this week, was the No. 9 pick in the 2000 draft, and became the Bears' starting middle linebacker by early in his rookie season. He defined the position, along with Baltimore's Ray Lewis, for the next decade. Urlacher was named to eight Pro Bowls, was a five-time All Pro selection and was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.
Urlacher struggled to stay healthy over the past few years, with a dislocated wrist in 2009, a knee injury late in 2011 and a hamstring injury that kept him out of the final month of last season.
"I will miss my teammates, my coaches and the great Bears fans. I'm proud to say I gave all of you everything I had every time I took the field," Urlacher said. "I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regrets."
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