Before his 2010 season my stance on his Hall inclusion was not yet. But after another stellar season, capped off with an NFC Title game and a Pro Bowl nod, I think his credentials will definitely get him in. If he plays at a Pro Bowl level another year or two, I think he'll be a 1st ballot Hall Of Famer. The guys over at nfl.com had their very own debate going on; Split opinions on Urlacher's credentials for Hall of Fame. After the jump I'll give a bit more of my take and also look at what they had to say.
I believe that a player has to be a one of the best in the league at his position for a decade. Not the best, just one of the elite players at his position in his era. Maintaining greatness over a period of time is the first thing I think about when giving my take on a players worthiness, regardless of sport. Thus far, in his 11 year career, Brian Urlacher was voted to 7 Pro Bowls (2000-2003, '05, '06, and '10). Two seasons were stolen from him due to injury, in 2004 he only played in 9 games, and in 2009 he only played in the opener against the Packers. He somehow missed the Pro Bowl in 2007, but he had an outstanding season compiling 100+ tackles, 5 picks, and 5 sacks. I profiled his '07 season on WCG right here. He also missed the Pro Bowl in 2008 when he battled through some nagging injuries, but still played in all 16 games. Was he the premier middle linebacker the last decade? Many would argue the Ravens Ray Lewis was, but both players are in that discussion. Urlacher has been, and still is, one of the very best at what he does.
Bucky Brooks from the nfl.com article isn't ready to proclaim Urlacher Hall worthy. I'll poke some holes in his argument.
...he was relatively quiet over a four-year span before having a bit of a rebirth last season.
Which four year span was that? I would have given Brooks, "relatively quiet over a
four-year two-year span", after all he did miss '09 with the wrist injury and '08 was a down year for Urlacher. But maybe he didn't realize he had that fantastic '07 season and he was named 1st Team All Pro in their NFC Championship 2006 season.
A Hall of Famer, in my opinion, should be one of the most dominant players on the field, with his presence felt on every snap.
Are you telling me an offense isn't aware of Urlacher on every play?
...you'd be hard-pressed to rank him as the top middle linebacker over the past decade, and that makes it tough to say he's a Hall of Fame lock after his career ends.
So earlier he states that a Hall of Famer should be "one of the most dominant", and now he says since, in his opinion Urlacher wasn't "the top middle linebacker" he may not get in? So hypothetically speaking, if Brooks feels Tom Brady is the dominant QB of his era, would he leave Peyton Manning off his ballot?
Vic Carucci thinks he's a first ballot lock, but Elliot Harrison says he has some more work to do before he's considered. Pat Kirwan thinks he'll get in at some point, but Jason La Canfora thinks he's a borderline guy. Steve Wyche thinks playing after Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary will hurt his chances. He says of those two,
Both were mashers and intimidators. Urlacher isn't viewed that way. He's more of a playmaker instead of a face-mask bender.
Urlacher is viewed as more of a playmaker... I'm OK with that. So maybe his tackles don't have the same style points as those from other players in the last 10 years, but 'Lach is still getting it done.
The last analyst that weighed in was, he was firmly in the Urlacher to Canton camp.
His body of work, just in statistics is impressive. He's led his teams to a Super Bowl appearance and two NFC title games. He's not just physical, but quick and fast, effective in run support, able to drop deep down the middle of the field in Chicago's Tampa-2 defense, and can blitz with abandon.
He also points out that when Urlacher misses games the Bears record isn't the best. The Bottom line is Brian Urlacher is a winner. Some voters might hold his not winning a Super Bowl against him, and that would be ignorant. Just because Urlacher is the prototypical MLB for the Tampa 2, don't think that he wouldn't thrive in any system. He has a unique blend of size and speed, and his football IQ is off the charts. Canton will be calling, you can book it.