I wanted to kick this post off by retelling my favorite Brian Urlacher moment, but it’s hard to pick just one.
Running down Michael Vick during the peak of his powers and absolutely dominating? That’s up there. Urlacher’s bazillion (I counted each one) tackles against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football in a game that launched one of the great viral moments in sports history? Certainly in the discussion. Fake punt touchdown reception against Washington? Ah, yes. A reminder of the days when Urlacher could’ve been the team’s best pass-catcher definitely takes me back. Interceptions of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers? Of course they’ll hold a special place in my heart!
But if I was to pick one, the visual of him hoisting the George S. Halas trophy after the Chicago Bears had won the NFC for the first time in my lifetime always gives me goosebumps and gets me in my feelings. Oh, to see that sight again…
- This is what greatness looks like:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 4, 2018
- Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times offers up 54 reasons why Urlacher made it to the Hall of Fame. You probably could’ve added a few more if you really wanted to do so.
- Urlacher was undeniably a transcendent player in the game. It’s among the reasons he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Over at NBC Sports Chicago, John Mullin re-visits Urlacher’s place in the middle of Lovie Smith’s Cover-2 defense that changed how we view the middle linebacker position and altered the way the game was played.
- Before he was the star in the middle of Smith’s defense, Urlacher broke out in Greg Blache’s scheme as a rookie. Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune catches up with Urlacher’s first defensive coordinator who reflects on the moment when he believes No. 54 arrived.
- Mike Ditka never got a chance to coach Urlacher, which is a shame because I feel he could really appreciate his contributions and game-changing presence on the defensive side of the football. Ditka pegged Urlacher’s talent and skill set, via the Bears’ official website. “Not all great middle linebackers are great athletes, but this kid was very athletic,” Ditka said. “He had the skills of a safety as evidenced by the number of interceptions he had, and the number of tackles he had is unbelievable.”
- Gosh, this was awesome:
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) August 2, 2018
- ESPN’s Vaughn McClure goes back and re-visits the Bears’ epic come-from-behind win against the Cardinals, featuring insight from Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Lovie, Edgerrin James.
- Laurence Holmes was on the Bears beat during Urlacher’s career over at 670 The Score, so it was interesting to check in on his reflections on the Hall of Fame linebacker’s time with the Bears.
- The best play from each of Urlacher’s 13 seasons? I’m in:
— NFL (@NFL) August 2, 2018
- Insight from guys who watched and called every game of Brian Urlacher’s career:
Tom Thayer has watched and called every game of @BUrlacher54's career. Him and Jeff Joniak reminisce about the player, the teammate and the leader #54 was on and off the field. #Congrats54 pic.twitter.com/GbVIYG8Ufx
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 2, 2018
- You know you did something right in your career when you’re getting love from one of your long-time arch rivals:
— NFL GameDay (@NFLGameDay) August 4, 2018
- And of course, there’s always love from teammates:
— Alex James Brown (@alexbrown96) August 3, 2018
— Israel (@iidonije) August 3, 2018
- It’s been a week of building buzz for me as I’ve been preparing to make the trek to Canton to celebrate Urlacher’s enshrinement. And while I’ve been geeked up about this trip, imagine the smile on my face when I saw that Urlacher shared his excitement about the Bears’ future, telling 670 The Score’s Mully and Haugh Show: “This is the most excited I’ve been since I’ve been retired.” Urlacher has voiced his pleasure with the future outlook, expressing excitement about Matt Nagy’s hiring and Mitch Trubisky’s upside.
- The Bears are still waiting for the quarterback of the defensive side of the ball to show up, as Roquan Smith’s holdout continues. There is hope that Smith carries on the legacy of great Chicago middle linebackers, but it’ll be difficult to do so without a signed contract. Urlacher shared his advice for Smith (once he gets to camp) via the Chicago Sun-Times, saying simply: “Play hard and play fast.” Those are two things Smith did when he was at Georgia, and GM Ryan Pace drafted Smith thinking those skills would translate to the pros.
- Then again, this would’ve never gone this far if Urlacher was in this position. “I told my agent I will not miss camp,” Urlacher told the Chicago Tribune. While I completely understand the sentiment, the nature of contract negotiations has changed since Urlacher was a rookie and I’m hesitant to try to compare eras. (But still … it’s hard to imagine Urlacher not showing up ready to ball.)