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(Reuters) - Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a brilliant 13-year career with the National Football League team with a statement on Twitter.
"After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire," wrote the eight-times Pro Bowl linebacker and Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 who will turn 35 this week.
"Although I could continue playing, I'm not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that's up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear."
A sure tackler in the middle of the defense, Urlacher lost his quickness last season because of a knee injury and he struggled to find suitors in free agency this offseason after he could not come to contract terms with Chicago.
Four times named a first-team All Pro, Urlacher was the latest in a line of brilliant middle linebackers for the defensive-minded Bears, following in the footsteps of Hall of Famer Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary.
"I'm proud to say I gave all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss the game, but I leave it with no regrets," Urlacher said.
Taken with the ninth pick of the first round in the 2000 NFL Draft out of the University of New Mexico, former college safety Urlacher racked up tackles while also flaunting the ability to cover tight ends deep downfield with his speed and athleticism.
A highlight of Urlacher's career was his 2007 trip to the Super Bowl, where the Bears fell to the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York,; Editing by Gene Cherry)