Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 Aug 2005

Urlacher May Have to Defend Endorsement Deals

If Brian Urlacher wanted to portray himself as a wholesome family man, he could have picked a better way than having Paris Hilton sit in his box during a Monday Night Football game. Since becoming a star with the Bears, Urlacher has dated Hilton, gotten a divorce, and had two children out of wedlock. An interesting Chicago Tribune article examines what that will do to his endorsement deals.

One subject that I think is important but that the article doesn't tackle is race. Urlacher is white. Would a black athlete with the same off-field activities be viewed differently? Would the Tribune even run this article if it were about a black athlete?

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 01 Aug 2005

16 comments, Last at 03 Aug 2005, 3:31pm by MJB


by Sophandros (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 12:14pm

IMO, yes they would have, because the media are about money, and "scandal" and sensationalism bring readers, which means more money.

by Dired (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 1:10pm

Well, if it were Paris Hilton, sure. As well, there is always that unspoken assumption that part of the reason Urlacher was as hyped as he was in the first place was that he was white, so there's kind of a duty to show 'fairness' by publicly tearing down what the media presumably created first in the first place.

by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 4:01pm

I do so enjoy the work of our nation's amateur media critics.

Urlacher, I'm guessing, is more than just a football star in Chicago and as such he comes in for more scrutiny than the average MLB. It may not be fair, but if he is seen as a celebrity and especially a celebrity who trades on his off-field image, then reporters are going to look at his private life. A more valid question would be whether his off-field exploits are playing any part in his decreased production.

by Sluss (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 5:16pm


Missing 9 games last year might have contributed to his lack of production. Which, I think was still three forced fumbles, an interception and five sacks.

It amazes me when I hear that Urlacher is overrated and then I watch a Bears game and see him involved in almost every play. Is the guy the best at shedding a center when he gets out to him? No. Does he make more plays than any other MLB in the league, maybe save Ray Lewis? Yes.

by glr (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 5:47pm

I agree with number 4. I haven't watched many Bears games, but in those I've seen, Urlacher makes plays all over the field. Furthermore, I have to agree that, while on the field, he produces more than any other middle linebacker. He was on my fantasy team last year and put up huge numbers--he scored more points per game than any other player (including Ed Reed). That said, staying healthy is something that must be taken into consideration when judging a player's value, so in that regard, he has underachieved.

I'd be curious to see the difference between the Bear's D with and without him.

by X (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 5:57pm

A couple days ago, someone mentioned race in regards to the McDougle shooting, and like five people jumped on him (or her) for it (saying things like "what difference does race make" and "this is about football, not social commentary" etc.)

But, one of the site's writers mentions race, and it's okay. The context was different, yes, but the principle is not.

By the way, I have no problem with mention of race (I'm not that sensitive). I'm just pointing out a double standard that I see quite often among FO posters. There is a tendency among some of you to put this site's writers/creators on a pedestal, as if trying to impress them with your ability to agree and give compliments. Yes, there is a lot of ass-kissing indeed.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 6:24pm

A lot of players in the NFL have kids out of wedlock, etc. There was an article recently about Blades who had 7-8 kids with different women. People are more "shocked" by it, I think, with white players than black. I remember the SI article on NBA players several years ago and people were "shocked" that Larry Bird had a child out of wedlock and that he basically had nothing to do with her growing up and did not acknowledge her existence.

by someone (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 7:37pm

Agree with 4 and 5. Urlacher was overrated after his first year, but not anymore. He's underrated if anything. Watch people talk about his rebound as soon as the Bears start winning

by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 10:33pm

I'm willing to bet Urlacher gets more endorsement deals because he's a star white athelete in a sport and at a position dominated by black players. Jason Sehorn had a similar thing going. I'd like to think the obverse is also true of a black athelete in a white-dominated sport: if Tiger Woods were another square-looking white guy, would he have the same quantity of endorsements that he now has?

by primantis (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 11:40pm

What Urlacher really needs to defend/apologize for is that awful barbed wire tattoo.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 11:44pm

I think his endorsements deals are more about being the "next good MLB" in Chicago. I can't tell if he gets more from being white but my gut says if Ray Lewis can do fine with endorsements after being involved in a murder trial, Urlacher isn't getting special attention for being white.

by Jack (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 2:20am

If Urlacher were black Bill O'Reilly would organize a boycott of his sponsors upon discovering his "despicable" behavior.

by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 10:50am

RE #9:

The last time I checked, Sportscenter didn't have a highlight reel of Urlacher getting burned like they did with Seahorn. The comparison you made is somewhat valid, however. But as someone said before, Brian's endorsement deals are probably due more to the fact that he is a Chi-town Beras MLB.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 1:16pm

Regarding whether or not Urlacher is over-rated: I read somewhere recently that he missed 7 starts last year and the Bears were 0-7 in those games (therefore, 5-4 in the games he did play)

Sorry, I can't remember the source of this info. Can any Bears fans confirm, or set the stat straight if it is not correct. Of course, there are a lot of factors to consider in won-lost record, but if the above is true then it sure sounds like the guy makes a difference.

by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 1:43pm

The bears were indeed 0-7 without Urlacher last year - it pained me to no end. Urlacher is really the glue to that defense, he has great sideline to sideline speed so he is around the ball every play. Without him, the defense really becomes average. Of course, last season they also lost Mike Brown, who is the other catalyst on that team, early in the season.

by MJB (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 3:31pm

Yeah, the Bears lost those 7 games because Urlacher was hurt. Please, they lost because they did not have a Quarterback who could make opposing defenses pay for stacking the line of scrimmage. Making the best player on thier offense (Thomas Jones) a non-factor. Thus it was thier poor play on offense that caused them to lose, not thier defense when Urlacher was out.