Previous NEXT Athletes include: Chinese basketball star Yao Ming (2001), Vince Carter (2000), Randy Moss and Keith Van Horn (1999) and from The Magazine's premiere issue, Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez, Kordell Stewart and Eric Lindros (1998).
This year it is someone who is cracking a lineup of legendary athletes who have played in Chicago. Papanek notes: "He's the man in the middle - of a team's resurgence, a sports town revival and a rethinking of how football is being played."
Said Urlacher: "I'm flattered to be in the same category with such great players like A-Rod and Kobe. When you join guys like that, it's real nice to be chosen."
ESPN Radio will be broadcasting live from ESPN the Magazine's NEXT party, sponsored by Beefeater Gin on Dec.12th from 6:00-7:50 p.m., in midtown Manhattan, N.Y.
The NEXT issue, in keeping with ESPN The Magazine's looking forward approach, is a special year-end issue that annually recognizes the athlete or athletes expected to define the coming year in sports.
ESPN The Magazine is a provocative and innovative sports publication. Full of insight, analysis, impact and wit, the oversized biweekly looks ahead to give fans a unique perspective on the world of sports.