Urlacher Named ESPN "Next" 2002 Athlete

Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher was named ESPN The Magazine's NEXT 2002 Athlete, it was announced today by ESPN The Magazine's Senior Vice President and Editor in Chief John Papanek. The Chicago Bears linebacker appears on the cover of the biweekly's trademark year-end issue, which annually recognizes the athlete expected to define the coming sports year through his or her talent, style and impact.  The issue goes on sale Wednesday Dec. 12th.

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.

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