The Chicago Bears beat the Minnesota Vikings in the regular season finale by a score of 17-13. But most Bears fans viewed the final score as an afterthought when Pro Bowl middle linebacker, Brian Urlacher, went down to what appeared to be a severe knee injury. He went up to bat down a pass in the end zone, and teammate Major Wright jumped over him causing Urlacher’s leg to bend awkwardly underneath him when they landed. Luckily the damage was only a sprain to the PCL and the MCL, with no surgery required. He’ll be ready to go long before any team off season stuff kicks off.
The fact that the injury wasn’t a bad one doesn’t make me feel any better with Lovie Smith having him on the field in a meaningless game. It could have been a devastating blow to the franchise. I understand that most professional athletes want to compete from whistle to whistle but, at some point the coaches have to play with the future in mind. Especially a coach that has a stable hold on his return. Lovie wasn’t going anywhere. The recent firing of Chicago GM Jerry Angelo, with the announcement that the new GM would inherit Lovie as his head coach, tells us exactly that.
I know that a player could injure himself getting out of an ice bath, but limiting playing time in a game where the outcome has no bearing in the grand scheme of things is the smart thing to do. I understand a coach starting, and wanting to play “his guys”, but at some point in the game you send in the young replacement, you shake your veterans hand and congratulate him on a fine season. Simple.
At the very least Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, and Charles Tillman should have had short afternoons for the Bears D. And over on the offense, it wouldn’t have hurt to get 3rd string QB Nathan Enderlee a few snaps in the 4th quarter, if only to handoff, so he could have had a feel for in game NFL speed.