The six-time Pro Bowler out of New Mexico—where he returned 13 punts for 196 yards—was named to the NFL All-Decade team earlier this year
Dan Patrick:When was the last time you were in a fight in practice?
Brian Urlacher: I don't even know. Every day there's a scrum. A fight now is grabbing someone by the face mask, because before you get any further people break it up. That's about the extent of fights these days.
DP:Have you changed your approach to hitting?
BU: No, not one bit. I don't think anyone on our team has. We play fast, and big hits are going to happen. We've got some safeties who can bring it. So we haven't changed the way we play at all.
DP:Do you have money put aside for fines?
BU: No. I've never had an issue with that.
DP:Just about every rule along those lines that has been put into place has benefited the offense. How frustrating is that?
BU: If they're going to fine us for hits to the head or hits to the chest, they need to fine offensive lineman for high-low hits. You may be out for a week or two with a concussion, but a knee injury puts you out all season, or it could end your career. As a defensive player, I don't see the difference. I know fans want to see points scored, but fans also like big hits.
DP:Do you ever tell Devin Hester how good you were at returning punts in college?
BU: No. I can barely even catch a punt anymore.
DP:Best team in the NFC now?
BU: Besides us?
DP:Ooh. Do you really believe that you guys are the best team in the NFC?
BU: I think we're one of the best teams in the NFC. We haven't played like it the last couple of weeks, but I still think talent-wise and with our schemes, we can be one of the best teams in the NFC.
DP:Who is with you?
BU: Green Bay is a good football team. And you can't count out the defending champs.
DP:You've got the Vikings this week. Do you want Favre to be the starting quarterback?
BU: I really don't care at this point. I like playing against Favre. We've done well against him in the past, and he's fun to play against.
DP:What if your kids said they wanted to dress up as Brett Favre for Halloween?
BU: It wouldn't go over very well.
DP:Has anyone ever come up to you in a bar or restaurant and said, "I want you to stick me. Tackle me."
BU: All the time.
DP:Do you ever do it?
BU: No. [Laughs.]
DP:What about a fantasy camp, where someone pays to get hit by you?
BU: If I could get someone to sign a waiver before I did it, then I would definitely like to do something like that.
DP:Maybe you could come down to the Super Bowl and come on the show and hit one of the Danettes between the numbers.
BU: I'd have to bring my pads. That'd be a big pain.
DP:No, we'd do shirts and skins. That's the way we used to play it.
BU: You played back in those days?
DP:Yes, I did, with no face mask, either. And we were allowed to have helmet-to-helmet hits.
BU: Those were the good old days. You could actually play football without having to worry about anything.
• Duck Soup
Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, a USC alum, thinks that Oregon's spread offense—which behind quarterback Darron Thomas (above) is averaging 54.7 points per game—would give even NFL defenses fits. "I don't think most NFL teams are equipped to defend that type of offense," Fisher told me. "We can handle the play-pass and the typical offense. When guys start motioning around and you get in that wildcat, I don't think teams at this level are equipped."
Between his team's wins over the Saints and the Patriots, I asked Browns president Mike Holmgren if he ever thought of returning to coaching. "I don't know," he said. "I will tell you, one of the challenges for me is watching the game. I'm in the box with some other guys, and I'm ranting and raving and jumping around. It's new for me.... Now I have no control over anything. That's the challenge. I don't know if that ever leaves you."
• Line of the week
Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris (left) described the ability of his predecessor, broadcaster Jon Gruden, to motivate: "What he was able to do in a meeting room was unbelievable. You were ready to drink the Kool-Aid when you left that room."
THE FINE PRINT: Federal prosecutors submitted a list of potential witnesses in the Barry Bonds perjury trial. And the jury will be sequestered in his old batting helmet.
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on the BCS and the USFL.
2. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini on moving to the Big Ten.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
DARREN CARROLL (THOMAS)
GARY BOGDON (MORRIS)
JEFF HANISCH/US PRESSWIRE (URLACHER)