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Football: Former Lobo picks up pair of Hall of Fame honors

Former University of New Mexico football player Brian Urlacher has been busy lately, picking up Hall of Fame selections for his collegiate and professional playing careers.

Urlacher was already a member of UNM's Ring of Honor, but joined the ranks of the College Football Hall of Fame in December of 2017.

He was a versatile player for New Mexico, logging plays as a linebacker, safety and on special teams as well. During his time at UNM, he garnered All-American honors twice and amassed some impressive statistics.

Urlacher had a total of four interceptions as a Lobo and earned Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year by recording 154 tackles, forcing five fumbles and seven pass deflections during his senior season.

He was one of 10 players inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, joining some familiar names like Peyton Manning, Marshall Faulk, Matt Leinart and former Chicago Bears teammate Adrian Peterson.

Just a few short months later, Urlacher received the news that he was also selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot.

Urlacher was the cornerstone of a very talented Chicago Bears defense during his 13-year playing career and helped lead his team to a Super Bowl XLI appearance in 2007, where his team lost 29-17 to the Indianapolis Colts.

He will not be the only middle linebacker to dawn the gold jacket when he heads to Canton, Ohio for the induction ceremony. Fellow linebacker Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens also got the nod to have his bust created as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Both players were sure tacklers and fans would be hard-pressed to remember a time when a ball carrier was able to elude or break a tackle once they made contact.

Urlacher was drafted ninth overall by the Chicago Bears in the 2000 NFL Draft and wasted no time leaving his imprint on the game.

During his NFL playing career, Urlacher earned Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2000, was included in eight Pro-Bowl selections and was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.

Tackles did not become an official NFL statistic until 2001, but the linebacker has 1,229 credited to his name in the 12 years they were tracked. He also logged 41.5 sacks during his pro playing career.

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Despite Urlacher being predominantly a run stopper, he was also adept at defending the pass as well. He was able to amass 22 interceptions, returning two of those for touchdowns.

Many may not know that Urlacher may have helped set up one of the greatest post-game rants of all-time, delivered by the late Denny Green, the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals during the 2006 season.

Arizona jumped all over Chicago in an Oct. 16 meeting during that season, going up by a score of 20-0 in the first half. But the Bears came roaring back and eventually pulled off a monumental upset by scoring two touchdowns in the final six minutes — once on defensive, followed by another on special teams to snag a 24-23 victory.

The defensive touchdown that spearheaded the comeback was set up by an Edgerrin James fumble, which was forced by Urlacher and returned 40 yards by Charles Tillman for the score.

A quick search on YouTube will show Green's reaction stemming from the frustration Urlacher, at least in part, caused. The fumble was one of 12 Urlacher was credited with forcing during his time in the NFL.

Urlacher's career was filled with big plays like the one against Arizona that helped the Bears trot out one of the most feared defenses in the league at that time and eventually landed him in Canton.

In addition to Lewis, he will also be joined by former wide receivers Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, as well as safety Brian Dawkins. 

The former UNM Lobo is scheduled to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during the induction ceremony on Aug. 4.

Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball, football and tennis. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.

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