After 13 seasons in the NFL, five time All-Pro, eight time Pro Bowler and 2005 Defensive Player of the Year, middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has decided to hang up his football cleats and call it a career by retiring. Urlacher concludes his playing career with a total of 1,353 tackles (most in Chicago Bears history), 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions and is one of four players in NFL history to finish his career with 40+ sacks and 20+ interceptions. Urlacher calling it quits seems to have come a bit out of left field, when there were reports only a few weeks back that number 54 was in talks with Bears division rivals, Minnesota Vikings about possibly coming into their organization and making life miserable for the Monsters of the Midway.
Now having spent his entire career with the Bears as the quarterback of the the defensive side of the ball, one must begin to wonder aloud if the University of New Mexico alum is destined for Canton, Ohio and enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Urlacher’s 13 years on the level coupled with his high level of play throughout his tenure as a Bears middle linebacker and all of his personal accomplishments in the league makes this question justifiable. One thought that comes to mind in regards to if a player is a Hall of Famer is how did they impact the game on the field and how did they transcend the sport as a whole?
For the first part of that question, I believe that in Urlacher’s case playing the majority of his career in the Tampa-2 defense he definitely helped to redefine the job requirement of a middle linebacker. Urlacher not only bothered and harassed quarterbacks in the backfield but also pestered them in the passing game as well.
As for the former middle linebacker being a transcendent figure in the sport of football, it’s a double edged sword for Urlacher having played in the same city at the same position as all-time Bears greats Bill George, Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary. Urlacher had huge shoes to fill on the field in order to get Bears fans include him in the conversion with the likes of Singletary and Butkus, and at this point it’s up in the air as to Urlacher’s ultimate fate as a Hall of Famer.
Urlacher made a decision to become an ex-player by retiring, and the countdown begins for his first hall of fame ballot. Now will he be revered by voters? That, however, is another question all together.