Brian Urlacher has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first try.
Urlacher becomes the first Bears player since Richard Dent (class of 2011) to enter the Hall of Fame, and joins Mike Singletary (1998), Walter Payton (1993), George Blanda (1981), Dick Butkus (1979), and Gale Sayers (1977) as Bears legends to be elected in their first year of eligibility.
There was a belief that fellow middle linebacker Ray Lewis’ presence on the ballot could hurt Urlacher’s chances at induction. It’s rare to see two great players at the same position go into the Hall of Fame together, but players like Urlacher and Lewis are even more rare. Both were deserving of first-ballot Hall of Fame status, and both will get it.
As for Urlacher’s body of work over the course of his 13-year career, to say it was Hall-of-Fame-worthy feels like an understatement. Drafted with the ninth pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, Urlacher grew into an all-time great middle linebacker, following in the footsteps of Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, and others. He was a four-time first-team All-Pro, eight-time Pro Bowler, and named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s. Urlacher picked up 1,353 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, 15 recoveries, and five total touchdowns (two fumble recovery touchdowns, two pick-sixes, and a receiving score).
Urlacher was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2000 and took home the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, making him one of five players to win both awards. Now, four of the five are in the Hall of Fame.