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Dancing with a former star

It’s this simple: If Brian Urlacher can play, then the Bears should sign him. If he can't, then they shouldn’t. Any questions?

The reality appears to be the Bears don’t believe their Hall-of-Fame-bound middle linebacker can play. OK. Fine. Move along, people, nothing to see here.

It gets murky when you talk money. Urlacher’s camp opened the bidding at something like $5 million and the Bears apparently responded privately, “Here’s taxi fare for O’Hare." Publicly, however, the clown show continued.

Look, there would’ve been a quick negotiation and none of this phony-baloney acting if the Bears believed in Urlacher. Obviously they don’t. Admit it and move on. We’ve now entered, I don’t know, Week 2 of this root canal.

Cut the cloying talk of Bears chairman George McCaskey: "In a perfect world, he would wear a Bears uniform until he’s finished playing. But unfortunately that's not the way it is today."

Stop the silly posturing such as General Manager Phil Emery’s useless talk that Urlacher would never be disrespected: “Talks are ongoing so I don’t know why anybody would feel slighted."

Fact is, the Bears are disrespecting Urlacher – and themselves – by acting weak, saying mindless things, and clearly hoping and praying someone else signs him.

If the Bears had any respect for Urlacher – and themselves – they would’ve already told him they don’t believe he can run and play the way they want and need. The Bears sound mealy-mouthed and look afraid.

But afraid of what? The fans? Urlacher said he didn’t care about the fans. If the Bears cared about the fans, they would focus on putting together the best roster in order to put a playoff team on the field instead of the hamhanded enabling of a soap opera.

Urlacher was coming back from a knee injury to start last season, and then he ended it with a hamstring problem. Urlacher doesn’t have anything near the closing speed that defined his remarkable career. When last we saw him, he had the smarts to play, but he couldn’t convince the body to get there all the time. He didn’t look like a three-down linebacker by the end, and the Bears need a three-down linebacker in the middle.

The Bears could be wrong. Urlacher still might have a big year left. They can say that to Urlacher as they say goodbye, but palm-to-forehead, say something useful and true, would you? Act like you’re wearing big-boy pants already. Stringing along someone you claim to respect shows zero respect.

The NFL is as much a business for Urlacher as it is for the Bears, and the Bears have to get on with the business of winning the Super Bowl, not staging this lame version of “Dancing With A Former Star.’’

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