Aaron Rodgers has a ton of respect for his former NFC North rival, Brian Urlacher. That's why the Green Bay Packers' star quarterback believes the Chicago Bears will wind up missing their longtime middle linebacker.
"It's kind of like us with losing (Charles) Woodson," Rodgers told Dan Pompeii of the Chicago Tribune. "It's tough to lose a guy of that leadership ability. Playmaking aside, I think both guys can still play at a high level.
"They are guys who bring more than just their on-the-field ability. They bring so much more to a locker room and a defense. That veteran presence, that leadership, that track record they have, the experience. When they get up in a meeting and talk, everybody is quiet. They're definitely going to miss his presence and his ability and his leadership."
Time waits for no one in the NFL, even future Hall of Famers. That's why we can't blame the Bears for moving on. Or blame Rodgers for defending one of the game's greats, perhaps seeing his own football mortality far into the future.
"I always appreciated the approach he takes to the game," Rodgers said. "Against the Bears, you never had to worry about cheap shots around the pile or after the whistle. They played the right way, and it was led by Brian."
The question now becomes if Rodgers ever will face Urlacher again as a member of a team other than the Bears. It's early, but there doesn't seem to be much interest in Urlacher.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.