Now that Brian Urlacher and the Bears have parted, it seems like a good time to revisit his storied 13-year career in Chicago. He may still sign with another team—if the price is right—but assuming that his career is done, I ask you, Bears fans: Is he a first-ballot Hall of Famer?
Now, there are actually two questions imbedded here. One is whether or not you feel he is worthy of the honor, while the second question is whether the NFL HOF's politics will allow it. Personally, I feel he is worthy but likely will have to wait until his third or fourth time on the ballot to get in.
For one thing, if his career is over now, Urlacher would be eligible at the same time as Ray Lewis. And that makes it unlikely, at least to me, that they elect both MLBs. There will be that obvious comparison and, as great as Urlacher has been, his career has not been as good as Lewis’—at least in the court of public opinion.
Meanwhile, old No. 54 has never won a Super Bowl. That's not his fault, of course, but rings do matter to the Hall. Heck, there are writers who aren't even sold on his being worthy ever for the HOF. So he has that working against him. As evidence, although this article is dated, it clarifies that there is a debate.
Still, let's consider Urlacher's accomplishments thus far:
- A franchise-record 1,776 tackles (according to team stats)
- Eight Pro Bowl selections
- 41.5 sacks and 22 interceptions
- Five All-Pro team selections
- NFL Rookie-of-the-Year in 2000
- NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2005
- NFL 2000s All-Decade Team
- Chicago Bears single-season tackle record (153 in 2002)
Urlacher's speed and athleticism helped to redefine the MLB position, especially working in the Cover-2 scheme, where he routinely had to cover offensive players down the field. He was the Bears’ signal caller and was reputed to be the leader of the defense. All of these accolades sound like a man worthy of football's highest honor.
Yet Urlacher's reputation has always generated controversy, especially among fellow NFL players. A 2006 poll of 361 NFL players by Sports Illustrated named him the second most overrated player in the league (behind Terrell Owens).
So what do you think? Is he Hall-worthy in his first year of eligibility, will he have to wait, or—Gasp!—do you feel Urlacher is not a future HOFer? You tell me. I've already told you what I think.
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