Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, reacting to the firing of Bears coach Lovie Smith, said he will not play for any other coach -- at least until the Bears hire a new one.
''I feel like I'm a Bear no matter what happens. I want to be here,'' Urlacher said in an interview on ESPN 1000's ''Silvy & Waddle Show'' on Monday afternoon. ''We're all mad right now. We just lost our head coach. We're all mad and we're going to say things we don't mean. I still don't want to play for any other coach. And I'll keep saying that until it happens, I guess.''
Urlacher, who has been with the Bears since he was drafted ninth overall in 2000, said he felt the same way when coach Dick Jauron and defensive coordinator Greg Blache were fired after the 2003 season. But he got over it. And he sounded pretty sure he will this time, too
''It happened so fast,'' Urlacher said. ''We're all emotional about it. I've seen Lovie every day for the last nine years. It's hard to picture not being around him every day. [But it's] just like with coach Blache and coach Jauron. I was pissed off when they let them go. I was surprised. I was mad. I'm sure those emotions will calm down. [But] after the game, it's emotional and hard to handle.''
Urlacher is a free agent after this season. But he said he would not close the door on returning, even under a new head coach.
''I've got some thinking to do,'' he said.''I'm a free agent. I want to keep playing football, I know that much. And I think once I'm healthy I can still do that at a pretty high level.''
Urlacher started slowly this season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery during training camp and missed the final four games of the regular season with a knee injury.
''It was one of my most frustrating seasons,'' he said. ''Dealing with this fricking knee was frustrating. The thing that hurt me was not having the offseason. I didn't get healthy until training camp. I aggravated it in training camp. But once I got into playing shape and I was healthy, I think I played decent. Some games I could have played better. But until the hamstring I was getting better.''
Though he said he knows he still wants to play, Urlacher also said retirement after 13 seasons in the NFL is a possibility.
''I'm not sure yet,'' he said. ''I want to see what's out there. I don't want to make any rash decisions right now. We've got a long offseason ahead of us. I want to take time to relax. I'm in no hurry to make decisions now.''