As is customary, for his final day in office Donald Trump released a list of pardons and commuted sentences. Casey Urlacher, who is the brother of former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and the current mayor of Mettawa, Ill., was granted a full pardon for his federal charge of conspiring to engage in illegal gambling. Last year Casey was one of 10 people named in a grand jury indictment in connection with an illegal offshore gambling ring. According to NBC Chicago, his alleged role was "recruiting bettors for the website UncleMickSports.com in exchange for a cut of their eventual gambling losses." There were accusations of recruitment of bettors and cash-filled envelopes.
It's difficult to be scandalized or astonished by Casey Urlacher's pardon. Trump had more appalling names on that list (Steve Bannon, Ken Kurson), and had granted more appalling pardons before this week (Eddie Gallagher, Duncan Hunter, those four Blackwater sociopaths). But it is fun, in its own distorted way, to imagine how transparent the process behind it must have been. Perhaps Trump learned that this big, strong guy Brian Urlacher—he's really tough, he would really hit the hell out of them on the field, isn't that right, Brian?—had a brother who was being treated unfairly for his private business, very unfairly, it was just not very nice, and could he possibly use his great power to help him out?
Perhaps this is also how to trace a line between Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson tweeting "Truzz Trump" last April and his friend, rapper Bill Kapri aka Kodak Black, receiving a pardon. For the last four years, if you knew the right people and possessed status as judged by Donald Trump, you could get a phone call or a visit and make your case for a favor of some sort. It was clear for Trump's entire term that fame or at least fame-adjacency was the only thing he ever cared about in people who weren't him, but it was emphasized one final time today.
There's one more fun thing to imagine in the case of Casey Urlacher. Imagine how the nine other defendants on that indictment felt when they heard the news.
H/t to Dan