Former Bears LB Urlacher earns Hall of Fame honor

New Pro Football Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher discussing strategy with then Bears head coach Lovie Smith.

New Pro Football Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher discussing strategy with then Bears head coach Lovie Smith.

Former Chicago Bears Linebacker Brian Urlacher, who symbolized pro football’s modern player with his speed and range, became the 28th player in franchise history to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday evening. Urlacher was elected in his first year of eligibility and gives the Bears the most players to be enshrined in the Canton, Ohio museum.

Urlacher led the Chicago attack unit during former head coach Lovie Smith’s tenure. Unlike the Hall of Fame Bears Linebackers who preceded him (Bill George, Dick Butkus, and Mike Singletary), Urlacher was cut from a different cloth. Smith’s “Cover-2″ defensive scheme fit Urlacher’s skill set perfectly. Measuring 6-feet-4, 255 pounds with 4.6 40-yard dash speed, he combined rare size, speed, and athletic ability to dominate opponents. His range, coverage skills and playmaking prowess were on display during a 13-year career that included a Defensive Player of the Year award, Defensive Rookie Of The Year, five All-Pro and eight Pro Bowl selections. Chicago won four division championships and made trips to the Super Bowl and NFC Championship game during Urlacher’s era.

A relatively unknown first-round selection out of New Mexico in 2000, Urlacher developed from a hybrid Safety in college to a three-down Linebacker who could tilt the field in favor of the Bears with game-changing plays. Chicago’s defense ranked as one of the NFL’s perennial leaders in takeaways during Urlacher’s time, a testament to his knack of being around the ball.

Fellow enshrinees in the class of 2018 include Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Terrell Owens, Brian Dawkins, senior candidates Robert Brazille and Jerry Kramer, and contributor Bobby Beathard.  The induction ceremony takes place in Canton on August 4.

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