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During concussion forum, Bears forced to tip-toe around Brian Urlacher’s statements

Brian Urlacher

Brian Urlacher

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Updated: March 17, 2012 10:27AM

The Bears, taking a proactive role in trying to ‘‘change the culture’’ of concussion awareness and treatment at all levels of football, hosted a forum for high-school players and coaches on that hot-button issue Wednesday at Halas Hall.

If only Brian Urlacher could have been there — not as the featured speaker, but as the featured listener.

The Bears’ noble effort was well-received by the coaches and players. But Bears chairman George McCaskey also had to tip-toe around the fact that the ‘‘face of the franchise’’ recently ­extolled the very attitude the team is committed to ­eradicating.

Urlacher made headlines last month when he told HBO’s Real Sports that he would do everything he could to avoid ­being diagnosed with a concussion.

‘‘If I have a concussion these days, I’m going to say something happened to my toe or knee just to get my bearings for a few plays,’’ Urlacher said. ‘‘I’m not going to sit in there and say I got a concussion. I can’t go in the rest of the game.’ ’’

Asked about Urlacher’s comments after the forum, McCaskey avoided chastising his star player.

‘‘Brian responded honestly about how he would approach the situation — and he hasn’t had a concussion that I’m aware of,’’ McCaskey said. ‘‘He was just talking about a hypothetical situation. By his own ­admission, maybe not the wisest course of action. But that shows his desire and that shows a mentality.

‘‘We’re talking about the difference between adult brain recovery and youth brain recovery. People at [the high-school level] need to be much more cautious.’’

That was the message Bears long snapper Pat Mannelly imparted on the audience, but it was one Urlacher might heed as well.

‘‘We need to change the culture of concussions. We know the severity of it [now],’’ Mannelly said. ‘‘You don’t want to be a wimp. It’s a tough sport. [But] it’s not all about Friday and Saturday night. It’s your life. I ­understand [football] is important. But life is much more important than that.’’

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