In rather unsurprising news, legendary Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher has been named a finalist for the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
Urlacher was drafted by the Bears with the 9th overall pick in 2000, and he more than lived up to that draft selection. Urlacher spent his entire career in the Windy City, racking up 8 Pro Bowl appearances and 5 all-pro selections.
Urlacher played his college ball for the University of New Mexico Lobos. Urlacher was an All-American for the Lobos his junior season, racking up a school record 178 tackles. Urlacher was also used as a goal-line wide receiver his junior season, racking up six touchdown receptions. Urlacher was inducted into the College Football Hall Of Fame in mid-2017.
Urlacher broke franchise rookie records in both sacks and tackles in 2000, leading the team in both stats. This performance allowed him to get selected as 2000’s Defensive Rookie Of The Year and also saw him voted to the Pro Bowl as an alternate middle linebacker.
Urlacher’s 2001 season was more of the same, as he got selected for his first All-pro team. He would have three more First-team All-Pro selections before his career was over.
Urlacher was selected as the NFL’s Defensive Player Of The Year in 2005, racking up 97 tackles and 6.0 sacks. That year, the Bears allowed the fewest points of any team in the NFC. The following season, Urlacher cemented his legacy in the national spotlight.
In the now-famous Monday Night Football comeback against the Arizona Cardinals, Urlacher was the one who forced the fumble which was recovered in the end zone to make it a one-score game. Urlacher finished that game with 19 tackles, and many consider it the greatest game of his career.
Urlacher was also a captain for the Bears when they went to the Super Bowl in 2006. The Super Bowl year was the last of Urlacher’s all-pro years, racking up 92 tackles and 3 interceptions.
It was after that 2006 season that Urlacher started to deal with injuries which may have shortened his prime. He dealt with an arthritic back during the 2007 season, which he had to have surgery on in the offseason. He also has season-ending surgery in 2009 after dislocating his wrist in week one.
However, Urlacher was back to himself the following season. He was named to the Pro Bowl in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons, earning a Second-team All-Pro selection in 2010.
Following the 2012 season, one in which he was sidelined the final four weeks due to injury, Urlacher was set to be a free agent. The Bears reportedly had little interest in resigning the then 34-year old, and Urlacher spatted with then-general manager Phil Emery. Urlacher retired May 22, 2012.
Urlacher retired sitting 3rd on the all-time list for most starts as a Bear, trailing only Olin Kreutz and Walter Payton. Urlacher holds the team record for tackles, with 1,229. Urlacher also amassed 22 interceptions and 41.5 sacks throughout his 12-year career.
Congratulations to one of the all-time greats on a deserving nod!