Brian Urlacher finally returns to Soldier Field: ‘Coolest thing was the fans’

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Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher receives a Ring of Excellence from Chicago Bears owner Virginia Halas McCaskey during halftime Monday. | Nam Y. Huh, AP photo

Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher didn’t know what to expect when he returned to Soldier Field on Monday for the first time since his playing days.

He was given his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring at halftime — the first halftime he had seen at Soldier Field. Usually, he was in locker room.

‘‘The coolest thing was the fans,’’ Urlacher said. ‘‘I pictured them funneling out, going to get drinks, going to the restroom. That’s what I do when I go to stuff. To see them all stay there, to have my teammates there, my wife, my really good friends there, it was a cool experience.’’

Monday marked the chance for the Bears to celebrate Urlacher’s Hall of Fame enshrinement last month in their own stadium. Virginia McCaskey, the Bears’ 95-year-old matriarch, introduced Urlacher to the crowd, a moment that touched him.

Before she spoke, Urlacher’s former teammates ran onto the field in jerseys. Among them were linebacker Lance Briggs, kick returner Devin Hester, running back Matt Forte, center Olin Kreutz, offensive lineman Roberto Garza and defensive ends Israel Idonije and Alex Brown.

‘‘It means everything to me,’’ Urlacher said. ‘‘Those are the guys I played for. My teammates, coaches and family are the reason I played the game.’’

Urlacher received the Hall of Fame ring, which features 1¾ carats of diamonds on a gold base. The Bears also presented Urlacher with a miniature statue of himself in full uniform.

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It marked a fitting closure to his Bears career.

‘‘I said this in my [Hall of Fame] speech: I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to the fans,’’ Urlacher said. ‘‘You never know when it’s your last game; I especially didn’t know it was my last game. So to get a chance to come back and do this . . . it was awesome.’’

Favorite team

When Urlacher spoke with the media after his halftime speech, he paused to watch the Bears’ defense make a third-quarter stop on television.

‘‘This defense has some really good football players on it,’’ he said. ‘‘They can win on defense. I think that’s very apparent. I think coach Nagy knows that.

‘‘But they also have some explosive players on offense, as well. It’s just fun. They’re a complete team. They have really good players at every position.

‘‘This is as excited as I’ve been about a team since I left.’’

This and that

Former Bears receiver Brandon Marshall was greeted with a smattering of boos from the home crowd when he made a catch for the Seahawks in the first quarter.

Six of the Bears’ seven inactive players were healthy scratches: fullback Michael Burton, outside linebacker Isaiah Irving, outside linebacker Kylie Fitts, offensive tackle Rashaad Coward, receiver Javon Wims and defensive lineman Nick Williams.

The seventh, safety DeAndre Houston-Carson, has a broken forearm.

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