T.S. Eliot once wrote ” Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” This week you will have read everything there is to know about Brian Urlacher. His stats are there for all the eyes to see.  Former teammates have been exacting and clear in describing what he meant to the team. Head Coaches and coordinators alike describe the athlete being lead by the intellect from within. Competitors use words to define his play, that speak to his intelligence as much or even more than his overly abundant athletic ability. Not that  6′ 4” at 190 lbs entering his senior year at Lovington High School in the southwestern state of New Mexico was ever a sure thing or be described as just God-given.


The simple fact remained that Brian, who had wanted to play for the Red Raiders of Texas Tech, only received 2 full scholarship offers. Not his first choice yet were both from in-state schools, New Mexico State Aggies and University of New Mexico Lobos. Ultimately he choose to go with the Lobos. The Aggies offer was late and had come after the Lobos’ coach Franchione took a “take it or we’ll give it to someone else” hard sell approach. Dennis Franchione, his coach for his first two years said “Urlacher could play anything or everything on the field, Tight end, Safety, Wide receiver or Linebacker, I wish I had 10 other Urlachers on the team.” His second coach Rocky Long really set Brian’s path towards football dominance in motion. Creating a position called LOBO which was a Safety/Linebacker hybrid 3-3-5 scheme allowing him the freedom to play freely and utilizing all his natural gifts the now 240lbs+ player was capable of.


Brian’s ability led him to leading the nation in tackles with 178 his junior year. When scouts came clamoring for him to enter the draft, Brian insisted on team loyalty and unfinished business as he returned for his senior year and galvanized his LEGEND with the Lobos for All=Time. As we entered the 2000 NFL Draft, the fan in me was closely involved like no other time I could ever remember. I  loved watching him as a LOBO, then add to the fact I bleed Orange and Blue for the Chicago Bears. The Bears have been my team since 1981 after drafting Mike Singletary in the second round out of Baylor. I am a bona fide Linebacker junkie; was Brian joining the Bears about to be my dream come true? With the 9th overall pick in the draft, two players names had been thrown around other than Brian: Thomas Jones RB out of Virgina and Plaxico Burress WR of Michigan State.


The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Wide receiver out of Michigan State Plaxico Burress with the 8th overall pick, and at 26-years-old I might have had a mild heart attack? Really, was this about to happen? No way, a decade of more misses than hits in the first round with guys like Mark Carrier 1990 who was a solid player, Curtis Conway in 93, and Walt Harris in 96 who became good pros.  Then there were the Stan Thomas, Alonzo Spellman, John Thieery, Rashaan Salaam, Curtis Enis and Cade McNowns who somewhat defined the Michael McCaskey’s ineptitude as General Manager for the Chicago Bears in the 90’s. Well we all know it did happen, and the 9th overall pick was Urlacher and the rest is history. So to mark this special occasion in my own way I would like to share a poem in Urlacher’s honor.


Early to school even before the sun was a Lovington boy wanting to hit the weights. Never truly knowing that years later it was the start of something great. Hard work had began to prime his dream in hopes of making a D1 team. The New Mexico Lobos a football powerhouse they were not. But for Urlacher it was one of only two teams that gave him a shot. It soon became clear his size, speed and power were hard to find. This time it had seemed the Bears couldn’t miss by drafting him at number nine. Known as a pro’s pro whose teammates and opponents all can agree Urlacher was a player we all came to see. No matter what he was called to do from tackles to sacks, Urlacher was the player who carried Chicago on his back! So Saturday as he enters the Hall, take time to remember what he has meant to us all. Urlacher’s intelligence will always be a trait hard to describe, an undervalued characteristic on his Hall Of Fame Ride. The all-time leader in tackles and a legend no doubt, these words barely touch the surface of what Brian is about.

Brian Urlacher


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