This season we will be without some long lasting players that have paved the way for the most successful sport in the history of man, NFL Football. Every season we see a few greats step aside, but in a game where the mean age, or career, has been shortened from being able to play 20 years till you’re 40, to a 10 year factory where 35 means you’re a dinosaur that needs to be retired to the museum. With rule changes that are political moves by Roger Goddell, rather than improvements, the game seems to a point to be going toward flag football mode. This is a beautiful game, civilized war fare without guns and just one pigskin bullet, that allows some the opportunity they never would’ve had to make more money than NASA scientists or Plastic Surgeons. This Game was perfect right before the tuck rule, and if it aint broke, you don’t fix it, unless your Roger Goddell and want to be remembered for rules that softened the product for the issue of “safety”. That is why I felt compelled to write an article saluting 3 players that will probablly have their busts in Canton sooner than later. It is a bittersweet day as football watches LB 52 Ray Lewis, CB/S 20 Ronde Barber, and LB 54 Brian Urlacher ride off into the perverbial sunset.
#52 Ray Lewis
One of the greatest linebackers of all time, this All American from THE U had a great career from his rookie season until the completion of his career. Ray Lewis was a two-time Super Bowl champion once in Super Bowl XXXV and just recently in Super Bowl XLVII. This two-time Super Bowl champion who is a 13 time Pro Bowler is a seven-time first-team All-Pro NFL player, and is one of the greatest linebackers without question to ever play the game. His leadership on and off the field will be sorely missed by his teammates, as well as, the people that he’s touched in the communities of Baltimore and Miami. He leaves the game with 17 NFL seasons under his belt,
248 games, 2,254 tackles, 33 interceptions, 20 fumbles, 43.5 sacks, and four
defensive touchdowns in a dream of a career. If there was a Mount Rushmore of linebackers he would certainly be on it along with Jack Lambert, Dick Butkis, and Lawrence Taylor’s. Truly one of a games champions, you will be missed and may enjoy the well-earned retirement you’ve earned sir. Do me a favor, if you feel like coaching, feel free to take the job from Mark D’Nafrio it would be much obliged.
# 20 Ronde Barber
A franchise player for many seasons, The Barber twin that actually made his mother proud by being class, and never saying anything crass; Ronde’s one of the best cornerbacks/safety’s ever to play this game. Certainly a player that should be a first ballot Hall of Famer if the people voting for it know anything about anything. A 5 time Pro Bowler, 3 time First Team All Pro, who owns the Buccaneers Career INTs record. He retires with 1,172 tackles and the most Sacks in NFL history by a DB. A man that can rest assured that he did his part in adding to the wonderous foundation that is the NFL.
# 54 Brian Urlacher
Another Face of the team Franchise Player who for 13 years was the epitimy of excellence, and single handedly kept the “Monsters Of The Midway” Mystique alive for years. A All-American from New Mexico, Brian Urlacher was drafted in the 2000 draft, he made a Super Bowl appearance and he was eight time Pro bowl player, five-time All-Pro, NFL defensive rookie of the year in 2000, and arguably one of the best linebackers to ever play the game in the history of the NFL. Brian in my personal opinion still had gas in the tank, and should’ve been signed by the Dolphins for the one year $3 million that he was expecting to get from his beloved Bears. Being a man of honor he decided that he was going to go ahead and stay a Bear, and never be another teams player. Urlacher leaves the NFL with 1779 recorded tackles, 41.5 quarterback sacks, and 22 interceptions. One of the first hybrid players to successfully execute the middle linebacker position from safety, the position he played for the Lobos. He is an excellent linebacker, and a model charitable citizen of the game of the NFL. A great human being, may he enjoy fishing on Sundays when realistically his Sundays were best spent as a true Field General of a Defense.