FUDDRUCKERS PRESENTS EVERYBODY HAS A STORY: BRIAN URLACHER, HALL OF FAMER
Brian Urlacher has been and continues to be an example of what is possible for small town athletes in the Land of Enchantment and across the country.
Urlacher led the Lovington Wildcats to an undefeated 14-0 season and the NMAA Class 3A State Football Championship. Urlacher then took his football talents to the University of New Mexico, the only school to offer him a scholarship. Urlacher was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, finished twelfth on the Heisman Trophy Ballot and received All-American Honors. He led the nation in tackles during his junior year and set a school record for most tackles in a single season.
Urlacher continued to make Lovington and all of New Mexico proud when he was selected in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft (ninth overall pick) by the Chicago Bears. Urlacher was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2000 and the Defensive Player of the Year in 2001 and 2005. He holds franchise records for the career for tackles in a single season and career tackles and was selected to eight NFL Pro Bowls during his 13-year NFL career.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and, most recently, the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There are only 318 members enshrined in Canton, Brian Urlacher is one of those elite few.
*click the above YouTube link to hear an interview with Brian
You had the College Football Hall of Fame induction and Pro Football Hall of Fame within a couple months of each other. What kind of year has this been for you?
It’s been busy. Getting ready for the Pro Football Hall of Fame was a big ask. We had a lot of stuff to do, but it was so cool to be there that weekend and meet all the current Hall of Famers. It’s unbelievable. If you would have asked me when I started playing that I could end up there I would have told you ‘Heck no.’ But to end up there and be enshrined in Canton forever is pretty awesome.
Is there a moment from that weekend that stands out?
The Ray Nietschke luncheon on Friday. Only gold jackets are allowed in the room and the rookies, my class, are not allowed to talk. We just had to sit there and listen, but I didn’t want to talk anyway. To hear Joe Namath speak, Michael Irvin spoke, Cris Carter, Aenas Williams, Anthony Munoz, all these different guys, a who’s who of everyone in that room, to hear them get up and say some things was pretty cool. I’m sitting there and I’m like, ‘There’s Dick Butkus. There’s Mike Singletary. Emmitt Smith just walked by. I know all of them, but to be in the same room with all of them is very humbling and very eye opening.
What do you remember most about your high school career in Lovington?
Football was the greatest. You play with the same guys from eighth grade all the way through our senior year. We were 0-5 in 8th grade, 2-5 in 9thgrade, and as seniors we won state, we were 14-0. So it was pretty cool to see our class stay together and get better every year. Some of my best friends are from high school. Basketball was fun too, and track, everything we did was fun back then.
When you’re growing up in Lovington and learning how to play football, then get a chance to play under the Friday night lights, did you ever have dreams of playing pro football and making the Hall of Fame?
The Hall of Fame was definitely an afterthought for me. I think every kid wants to play pro football. Any kid who laces ‘em up in high school, or any level, dreams about playing pro football. You don’t know if you’re going to make it or not. It’s so hard to make it. There are so few guys that make it through. You have to stay healthy and a lot of things have to go right for you.
You were only offered one scholarship out of high school, to the University of New Mexico. Do you ever wonder what would have happened if you never got that offer?
I’m going to go ahead and say it would not have worked out as well for me if I went somewhere else. It’s going to be hard to top what happened to me, with college, getting drafted in the first round, then my NFL career went the way it went. I have a hard time believing if I went somewhere else that it happens better.
What’s next for you?
I don’t know. My kids are still growing. I have a 17, 13 and 12-year old. We stay busy with that. I love to fish, I love to golf, I travel. I’m not bored yet, which is good. Once I start getting bored we’ll figure something out, but I’m having a good time right now.
Where’s the gold jacket and how often do you plan to break it out?
In my closet. I’m not going to break it out hardly ever, I think. After that weekend, I had to get it dry cleaned because it was all sweaty. I took it to the dry cleaners and now it is in the closet where it will stay.