For a 5-9 team, the Bears did pretty well getting four players named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday.
What the team would not say is if any players were chosen as alternates for the all-star game in Honolulu on Feb. 10. A public relations official said it was the organization’s policy not to release that information, although when the Bears were riding high last December all of that information was freely available.
Here’s a possible explanation for why that information was not being released: Brian Urlacher got just about zero support from players and coaches around the league in Pro Bowl balloting. Urlacher was the runaway winner in fan balloting, which counts one-third in the selection process. Votes from the coaches and players count one third, also.
According to information gathered from various sources, including ESPN.com’s John Clayton, Urlacher is no better than a fourth alternate at inside linebacker. Seattle’s Lofa Tatupu and San Francisco’s Patrick Willis were selected for the game. Green Bay announced Nick Barnett is the first alternate. Minnesota announced E.J. Henderson is the second alternate. Washington announced London Fletcher is the third alternate.
It’s a loaded position in the league this season. Tampa Bay’s Barrett Ruud has also had a fine season. But this goes to show how peers and coaches evaluated Urlacher’s season playing with his arthritic back condition. He looked like the Urlacher of old Monday night at Minneapolis when he had an interception, two sacks and a fumble recovery. But while he leads the team in tackles, he hasn’t been up to his own standards in many weeks and that got noticed.
You have to wonder if it’s connected to the Sporting News piece on Urlacher from 2004 when he was named the league’s most overrated player. He came back the next season to be named the NFL’s defensive player of the year. This season, he’s at best the No. 6 inside linebacker in the NFC according to this information.