Brian Urlacher had many influencers shape his Hall of Fame career as a middle linebacker for the Bears, but just one could introduce him at the Hall of Fame*.
Among the many reasonable options, we’re probably most familiar with Lovie Smith, the head coach for whom Urlacher played the most games. But there’s also Dick Jauron and Greg Blache, the head coach and defensive coordinators of Urlacher’s first team as a pro.
Choosing just one presenter for Hall of Fame weekend wasn’t going to be an easy task, and any of the above would’ve been fine, but Urlacher went a little off board with his choice.
As the headline suggests – and ccording to the Hall’s official website – Urlacher has chosen Bob Babich to present him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in August: “I am so humbled by the offer that Brian gave me to present him,” Babich said in a statement released by the Hall of Fame. “He is such a good guy and was such a good player, but even more so than that, he was a great person to be around.”
Babich, who currently coaches linebackers for the Buffalo Bills, was a long-time Bears assistant under Lovie Smith. His career with the Bears started in 2004 when he took over as the team’s linebackers coach. He served in that capacity from 2004 through 2006 (adding an assistant head coach title along the way) before becoming the Bears’ defensive coordinator from 2007 until 2009. Babich moved back into his role coaching linebackers full-time in 2010 when Rod Marinelli stepped in as defensive coordinator until 2013.
So outside of familiarity, why Babich?
“I spent nine years with Bob and he knows me better than anybody,” Urlacher told Brad Biggs of the Tribune. “We had a great relationship and have a great relationship today. He challenged me every single day. One thing I loved is he didn’t treat me different than anyone else. I loved going to work every single day and while I hated meetings, he made them fun because it was a challenge every single day.”
On top of that, Urlacher made four Pro Bowls, earned two first-team All-Pro nominations, and was named the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week four times while being coached by Babich in one way or another.
All things considered, it sounds like Urlacher made a wise choice to go with a coach who seemed to have a strong, positive impact in his career. Well done, good sir.
*Urlacher earned first-ballot Hall of Fame honors back in February, joining 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. He also becomes the first Bears players to enter the Hall of Fame since defensive end Richard Dent, who was part of the class of 2011.