Brian Urlacher’s illustrious 13-year playing career with the Chicago Bears is as decorated as they come.
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2000. NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2005. Eight Pro Bowl nominations. Four-time first-team All-Pro at linebacker. More than 1,300 tackles to go with 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, 15 recoveries, and four defensive touchdowns.
Urlacher’s numbers put him among the elites at the position, and today could be the day it all comes together with a call to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) February 3, 2018
- Urlacher was everything you wanted out of a modern-day middle linebacker. Over at the Chicago Tribune, Don Pierson describes how no one was built to play the position in the 21st century like the last of the great Bears middle linebackers. Urlacher owned the unique combination of size, speed, and instincts that no other linebacker ever possessed. He had range to cover sideline-to-sideline, as well as the mobility and agility to cover the deep middle like a safety. Urlacher was an all-time great tackler, too. He was truly anything the team needed him to be. Stop the run? Urlacher could do it. Defend a running back in the flat coming out of the backfield? Urlacher could do it. Stay with a safety in the middle of the field? Urlacher could do it. And do it all at an elite level for more than a decade.
- Hall of Fame pro football writer Dan Pompei is the man responsible for presenting Urlacher’s case for the Hall of Fame. Over at The Athletic, Pompei explains how he will present Urlacher’s case in front of his peers. Pompei is in an elite class of football writers, so you would be hard-pressed to find a better representative to stand in front of a room of 47 writers and explain why Urlacher is a deserving member of the 2018 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s a class so loaded with talent, Pompei believes about 85 percent will eventually make the Hall.
- What are Hall of Fame voters looking for, anyway? Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times gets to the bottom of the process by interviewing voters/writers at different publications and provides some perspective that would otherwise be lost in the shuffle. Things like longevity, stats and accolades, and whether or not a player is worthy of first-ballot status are among the topics discussed.
- Naturally, there has been a ton of talk comparing Urlacher with fellow inside linebacker Ray Lewis. This really shouldn’t be about Urlacher vs. Ray Lewis because both deserve to get in as first-ballot Hall of Fame linebackers. Still, Hub Arkush breaks down Urlacher’s Hall of Fame case as compared to Lewis:
- There are times where it’s better to be lucky than good. So naturally, when it comes to the Bears and Urlacher, there’s a little bit of both in play. John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago takes us on a journey through Urlacher’s career with the Bears … which includes anecdotes that could have changed the course of football history. Imagine Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher winning an organizational tug of war and convincing the front office to take Urlacher instead of Plaxico Burress with the eighth pick. Put yourself in a place to imagine where Urlacher would be if Bears Vice President of Player Personnel Mark Hatley and Head Coach Dick Jauron would have placed Urlacher at safety. And how could we forget that Urlacher actually started his career at outside linebacker before moving inside after Barry Minter went down with an injury. On second thought, I’d rather not think about what could have been because things turned out juuuuust fine.
- Over at Pro Football Weekly, Bob LeGere writes Urlacher’s Hall of Fame worthiness was about more than stats. Though, as we noted earlier, the stats were pretty darn great for the 13-year pro. LeGere notes Urlacher was the X-Factor in Lovie Smith’s Cover-2 defense, which wouldn’t have been what it was without Urlacher roaming the middle of the field. His ability to drop into coverage, make moves on ball carriers, and pressure the quarterback was uncanny. Watching Urlacher play middle linebacker was like watching one player tackle several different positions at the same time. There aren’t stats for that kind of skill.
- Larry Mayer of the Chicago Bears’ official website talked with some of the players Urlacher went up against over the years, who gave their seal of approval for the star linebacker’s Hall of Fame worthiness. I’m not sure which quote moved me more, but Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis saying there was a stretch where Urlacher “was the preeminent linebacker” in football or tight end Jason Witten (who is bound for Canton when his playing career is over) noting how Urlacher’s presence in the Cover-2 made it what it was. Both perspectives should provide a reminder of Urlacher’s greatness.
- Not only was Urlacher an all-time great player, he was a coach’s favorite, too. Chris Emma of CBS Chicago spoke with Lovie Smith about Urlacher’s Hall of Fame candidacy, “The best to play at a position, a guy that changed the position, a guy that’s different than most other players that played the position,” Smith said to Emma in a telephone interview. “This is who Brian Urlacher is. You have to start out with God-given ability and you can’t draw up a better ‘Mike’ linebacker than Brian Urlacher.” No argument here, coach.
- If Urlacher gets in, Smith will obviously be one of the coaches he considers as a presenter in August. Urlacher tells John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago that Smith, former Linebackers Coach/Defensive Coordinator (2004-12) Bob Babich, and Greg Blache (Urlacher’s first Defensive Coordinator) were the three coaches who had the biggest impact on his career.
- And finally, some love from some former teammates:
— Robbie Gould (@RobbieGould09) February 1, 2018
— Greg Olsen (@gregolsen88) February 3, 2018
@BUrlacher54 One of the greatest linebackers and teammates to ever play the game of football. Proud to have shared the field with you my brother. I wish you all the best today as you are a 1ST BALLOT HALL OF FAMER! #2000NFLDraftClass #BearTFDown https://t.co/4DkZz6BSrJ
— Thomas Q. Jones (@ThomasJonesRB) February 3, 2018
Big day for buddy @BUrlacher54! He was the best teammate you could have, humble super star always having fun, and a freak athlete that could flat out ball! His resume speaks for itself! He deserves to be a First Ballot member of the @ProFootballHOF!! Good luck today broz!
— Dusty Dvoracek (@DustyDvoracek) February 3, 2018