High profile -- Brian Urlacher
By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 29, 2002
At the NFL combine three years ago, word got around that a senior from New Mexico was leaving scouts pinching themselves after workouts. Brian Urlacher quickly became legend and the Bears took him with the 9th overall pick.
What was even more intriguing was Brian Urlacher had played linebacker, running back and tight end in college. It's obvious, three Pro Bowl seasons later, that he has found his niche.
Urlacher, 24, has become one of the league's best linebackers. In his first two years, he had 313 tackles, 14 sacks and five interceptions. This season, he has 201 tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception and four sacks.
"The thing I really like about Brian, after his God-given talent, is that he's a worker who works hard every day in practice," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "He knows he's not as good as he wants to be, he knows he's not as good as he can be and he knows he's still young in the position and has things to learn. He wants to learn them and he keeps working. That bodes well for us."
GETTING HIS PROPS
Urlacher, a 6-4, 254 pound athletic wrecking ball, has quickly ascended to heroic status not just in Chicago but across the NFL. His jersey is the league's No. 1 seller nationally.
TURN UP THE HEAT
Remarkably, Urlacher seems very cozy in the brutally cold temperatures of Chicago. Not bad for somebody from New Mexico.
"Once you're up there, you don't think about the whether as a player,"Urlacher said. "I don't know, it may be different for a guy from Tampa, but for us, even in college you don't notice the weather. You go out and play and I love playing in the cold. You do notice before the game, but after the kickoff you have the heaters on the sideline and all that junk to keep you warm. I never notice it once we start playing."
The image of Urlacher devouring a ball carrier with the frost on the ground and hot air emanating from his body has become a Bears icon.
"Growing up as a kid, during playoff times, the teams that were in the playoffs were cold weather teams and you would always see them breathing out the fog from their mouths," he said. "I loved that. I never got a chance to play in that until I came (to Chicago)."
Three seasons away from obscurity, Urlacher is drawing comparisons with some of the league's best linebackers the past decade, and recently was compared to Bucs 8-year veteran Derrick Brooks.
"I have never been around a linebacker as talented as (Urlacher)," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "Now in Tampa, I think Brooks is certainly a talent like that, guys that can really run, close on a ball, close on a ball carrier, do those kinds of things all the time. Derrick, obviously, has a lot more experience and Brian is lacking in that area."
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