Brown's Honor Long Overdue

Lake Forest - While Brian Urlacher gets the bulk of the attention on the league's top defense, Mike Brown has been the vocal leader of the unit since joining the team in the same draft class. Now Brown finally gets to join Urlacher at the Pro Bowl.

It's not that Brown hasn't deserved to go in the past or been close to making the trip to Hawaii. In 2001 he was named to the All-Pro team after coming with five interceptions and taking two back for game-winning touchdowns in consecutive weeks, but he wasn't named to the Pro Bowl team. He's led the team with three interceptions a year later and still was denied the honor.

"It's never been something that I've really - to be honest with you - cared about," Brown said. "The most important thing to me is my teammates and the people that I play with every week and I feel like I have the respect of those guys and that's the bottom line.

"Of course I'm honored but it's something that I've never sat out to do. I've never been like if I never make the Pro Bowl it wouldn't complete my career."

The long awaited trip to Hawaii may be part of the reason Brown tries to downplay finally going.

"That guy has been robbed for 5 years," Urlacher said. "He should have been there since Day One, but it's a great thing for our team and for him."

Even though Brown won't admit it, the recognition must be gratifying for the six-year veteran after coming off an Achilles tear that forced him to miss the final 14 games of last season.

Despite missing the past two games with a calf injury, Brown's three interceptions are good enough for third on the team and he's fourth on the squad with 89 tackles.

"Mike Brown means quite a bit of our team," said head coach Lovie Smith. "The quarterback of the defense back in the secondary, spiritual leader, vocal leader, just a good football player. It's good to see that he's recognized that way."

Before Nathan Vasher became the Interceptor, Brown was scoring touchdowns. He holds the franchise mark for most scores by a defender and extended his own record to six touchdowns with a 41-yard interception return against the Lions in Week 2.

The most important thing to Brown is seeing the team succeed. Since Urlacher and Brown were taken in the first and second round of the 2000 draft respectively this is just their second winning season.

"I'm sure everyone has individual goals that they're shooting for, but I think we have a lot of team oriented guys," Brown said. "We have guys that are more worried about making some noise in the playoffs and really proving to people that we are a quality football team. A team that should have never been ranked as low as we were in the beginning of the season. We've always had expectations that we were going to be a great football team and I think we're on our way."

For Brown it definitely has a chance to be the most satisfying both personally and professionally. He and his wife Erin had their first child four months ago, daughter Kyla.

Along with a budding family, Brown saw his football career take a new turn this season. He moved from free safety to the strong side in order to become more of a factor in the defense. Some wondered if he could be the same player he was before the Achilles injury, but he's bounced back in strong fashion.

Now the team is on the verge of clinching their first NFC North crown and heading to the postseason with high expectations.

"I feel like we have a great chance of doing something special," Brown said. "There's a belief in the locker room and guys are excited. You can see how things are shaping up and where you fit into that picture."

There's little doubt that Brown has been a perfect fit in Chicago.

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