Urlacher on the Hall of Fame Track

A day after Brian Urlacher celebrated his 28th birthday, we examine his chances of being inducted in the Hall of Fame. Read why his teammates believe it's only a matter of time before he's enshrined in Canton.

After six seasons in the NFL, Urlacher has put together a resume like few in the game have ever seen. He's been named to the Pro Bowl five times. He's one of just five players in NFL history to win both Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year over the course of a career.

Urlacher has been a durable performer, starting all 16 games in four of the last five seasons. In 89 games, including 86 starts, he has 956 tackles (58 for loss), 32.5 sacks, seven interceptions, 22 pass break-ups, six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.

"The thing about Brian is that he makes spectacular plays look easy," said safety Mike Brown, who was part of the same draft class as Urlacher in 2000. "Even though he won Defensive Player of the Year I don't think he gets enough hype. People don't understand the things he does on a football field, he makes them look so easy that it's like he's not doing anything. But he's a spectacular football player. The best football player I've ever been around and obviously has a tremendous amount of talent and he's using it well. He's the whole package in my book."

The scary part of his numbers is the fact that Urlacher should be entering the prime of his career. Hall of Famer Mike Singletary is the only other Bear to win Defensive Player of the Year honors. His first nod came in his fifth season and he won for a second time in his eighth year.

With Urlacher it's not only what he can do, but also how he alters an opponent's game plan.

"There are certain things you can't do against Lack," said wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, who has played with and against Urlacher. "It's tough to throw down the middle of the field when you've got a guy that's 6-foot-4, 258-pounds and can run the way he can run."

The only thing that would seem to prevent Urlacher from someday having a bust in Canton is an injury.

"Brian Urlacher is synonymous with great football so he's a Hall of Fame guy," said eight-time Pro Bowl guard Ruben Brown. "In my time, in my era of linebackers, there's been a very few that I could say have played at the level he's played at.

"If you had to pick your team I don't think you would pick your team without putting Brian Urlacher on it. That's the most important thing, Hall of Fame or not or how good is he. If I'm picking my team and Brian Urlacher is in the shape that he's in right now, I'm calling him."

Despite not having a lot of postseason success, Urlacher has history on his side. Dick Butkus, arguably the best middle linebacker the game has ever seen, never went to the postseason.

"He's doing it in the right city," said DE Adewale Ogunleye. "He's doing it in Chicago where if you play well here as a linebacker you have a good chance of going in."

Five of the 26 Bears in the Hall of Fame played linebacker. Along with Singletary and Butkus are George Connor, Bill George and Clyde "Bulldog" Turner.

With a contract that runs through 2011, the organization has guaranteed that Urlacher will retire in Chicago. Chances are he will one day add his name to the list of Bears enshrined in Canton.

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