Urlacher, Brian


Urlacher, Brian
▪ 2007

      In 2006 Brian Urlacher, middle linebacker of the National Football League (NFL) Chicago Bears, made good on the promise that he showed when he was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2005. As the leading tackler and emotional leader of one of the NFL's best defenses, Urlacher guided the Bears to a 13–3 record, as well as the team's second consecutive division title and its first Super Bowl appearance since 1986.

      Urlacher was born on May 25, 1978 in Pasco, Wash. After his parents separated, he and his siblings moved with their mother to Lovington, N.M. In his senior year of high school, he played both wide receiver and safety on a team that went 14–0 and won the state football championship. His success in high school led to a scholarship to play football at the University of New Mexico (UNM). As a senior he played safety, linebacker, and receiver—he even returned punts—and he gained the attention of NFL scouts. Intrigued by the athleticism and versatility of the UNM graduate, the Bears selected Urlacher as the ninth pick of the 2000 NFL draft.

      As the Bears' middle linebacker, Urlacher occupied one of the NFL's most storied positions, which had previously been occupied by Hall-of-Famers Bill George, Dick Butkus, and Mike Singletary. Urlacher had all the grit and toughness of his predecessors, but he brought a new dimension to the position—speed. After playing safety in college, he was projected to be an outside linebacker when he joined the NFL. In his rookie season, however, an injury to the team's middle linebacker forced the Bears to play Urlacher at that position, and he took to the task right away. He recorded 124 tackles, 8 sacks, and 2 interceptions that season on his way to earning the first of six Pro Bowl invitations and the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honours. Although he was an excellent run defender, it was his skill against the passing game that set Urlacher apart from other middle linebackers. At 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in), 117 kg (258 lb), Urlacher was big enough to take on and shed blockers, while his speed, exceptional for a man his size, and innate instincts for reading offenses made him outstanding in dropping back into coverage or rushing the quarterback.

James Hennelly

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▪ American football player
in full  Brian Keith Urlacher 
born May 25, 1978, Pasco, Wash., U.S.

      American professional gridiron football (football, gridiron) player known for his aggressive play and hard-hitting tackling.

      In his senior year of high school, in Lovington, N.M., Urlacher played both wide receiver and safety on a team that went 14–0 and won the state football championship. His success in high school led to a football scholarship at the University of New Mexico. As a senior there, he played safety, linebacker, and receiver—he even returned punts—and he gained the attention of National Football League (NFL) scouts. He was selected by the Chicago Bears with the ninth pick of the 2000 NFL draft.

      As the Bears' middle linebacker, Urlacher occupied one of the NFL's most storied positions—one played previously by Hall-of-Famers Bill George, Dick Butkus (Butkus, Dick), and Mike Singletary. Urlacher made an immediate impact for the Bears, recording 124 tackles, 8 sacks, and 2 interceptions in his rookie season on his way to earning the first of many Pro Bowl invitations and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honours. He was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, while leading one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL. In 2006 Urlacher and the Bears' defense were the key to the team's first Super Bowl appearance since 1986.

      Although he was an excellent run defender, it was his skill against the passing game that set Urlacher apart from other middle linebackers. Measuring 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 metres) tall and weighing 258 pounds (117 kg), Urlacher was big enough to take on and shed blockers, while his speed, exceptional for a man his size, and innate instincts for reading offenses made him outstanding in dropping back into coverage or rushing the quarterback.

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Universalium. 2010.

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