MICHIGAN CITY — I assume everybody else came to talk to Brian Urlacher about the Bears.
Me, I came to the new FanDuel Sportsbook at Blue Chip Casino on Thursday to chat with the Hall of Fame linebacker about something else.
If you know me or at least look at my column mug, you know I don’t have any. Well, I do, it’s just in a horseshoe pattern around the side and back of my head. Ever since I ‘lost’ a bet with my son’s youth basketball team going on 20 years now to shave if we made the finals, I’ve opted for the aerodynamic look.
OK, that’s way too much follicle history about the person in this conversation who doesn’t have a bust in Canton.
Urlacher, as the story goes, began losing his hair in college (Hey, me too!) and began shaving his head (Hey, me too!). The difference was he was a 6-foot-4, 258-pound moving wall of granite at the University of New Mexico and I was a dorky fledgling sports writer. Urlacher sported the smooth look for his entire 13-year career with the Bears and it fit with the rugged persona.
“It was good when I played because I looked tough-ish,” Urlacher said. “I had a good shaved bald head, which helps.”
After retiring prior to the 2013 season, Urlacher needed the minimum five-year wait to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. By then, he’d already returned to the comb and brush fraternity, courtesy of RESTORE Hair.
“I never worried about mine,” Urlacher said. “I was bald and that’s just the way it was.”
I resigned myself to the same scalp fate but not until after an ill-fated attempt at restoration with an alleged hair-growing ointment called New Generation. Fortunately, I found a woman who didn’t care. As for No. 54, he learned about RESTORE.
“I didn’t know there was anything out there if you want to get something done about it,” Urlacher said.
Now both Urlacher and Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg do commercials for the company, which has provided Urlacher with a fandom separate from those in the stands.
“People recognize me because of my hair,” he said. “There was a guy on the plane, he goes, if you are who I think you are, does it really work? It’s funny to me because it’s like a whole new realm of people. It’s amazing how many men worry about their hair and want hair. It’s crazy.”
If you’ve been up to O’Hare (no pun intended) Airport in the last few years, you can’t help but notice Urlacher’s mane on a bevvy of billboards.
“They’re everywhere you turn,” he said. “I’m a huge fan of what they do. They do great work. People can’t believe the results.”
Retirement’s treated Urlacher well. He looks like he could buckle it up and chase down ball carriers like he used to do.
“I’m the exact same weight I played at, 245 to 255,” he said. “(People tell me I look) skinnier than they thought. That’s what everyone says. What’s funny is, July rolls around, it’s time to get ready, training camp, my mind’s like, you don’t have to get ready this year. It would’ve been nice to keep playing, but it’s nice not to have to get ready every year. I haven’t gotten bored yet being retired.”
The affable Urlacher hadn’t been back to Soldier Field until the Seattle game about a year ago. He was also on hand for the playoff loss to the Eagles. Being a spectator has given him a different perspective of the game and a greater appreciation for the fans, Thursday’s boos not withstanding.
“It’s cool coming back as a fan,” he said. “The crowd is unbelievable. They’re so loud.”
Otherwise, the 41-year old father to three boys stays busy mountain biking, traveling and golfing.
“I figured out I wasn’t very good at business stuff,” he said. “The Bears paid me pretty well and I tried to save some of it. I did OK.”
And as for the hair, if you didn’t know, you’d never know.