Before we get down to the nitty gritty of this article, I am writing this piece to answer the simple question, "will the 31 year-old Bears LB Brian Urlacher be Canton-bound after retirement?"
As a Bears' fan, I am not writing this in a bias disposition, but rather, I want to spark debate and conversation over this issue.
Urlacher has been called one of the famed "Monsters of the Midway" by many Bears' fans, but due to injury and play-calling schemes as of late, Urlacher's abilities have been overshadowed.
Now, I would never put him among great names like "Butkus" and "Samurai Mike," but his contribution to the Bears and what he has done on the field speaks for itself.
Without further delay, let's take a look at the NFL career of Brian Urlacher.
Urlacher's impact as a rookie in the 2000 season was almost immediate. Although he opened the season as a reserve OLB, he switched to MLB for his first career start vs. NYG and registered 13 tackles and his first career sack.
Urlacher finished that year with 124 total tackles, 8 sacks, and 2 INT's—earning him the 2000 NFL Defensive Rookie-of-the-Year.
Brian was also a unanimous all-rookie team honoree and voted to his first career Pro Bowl.
In 2002, he led all NFC defensive players in Pro Bowl voting. Brian recorded double digit tackles in every game, leading the team in tackles 14 times that season.
In 2005, Brian earned himself the NFL Defensive Player-of-the-Year award and first team All-Pro, receiving 34 of 50 votes.
Urlacher led the team in tackles that year for a fifth time in six years with 122 total tackles and six sacks.
In 2006, Urlacher helped solidify a defense that was Super Bowl bound—only to come up short against the Colts in the championship game.
Brian registered 142 total tackles and three INT's that season with a career high 25 tackles in one of the greatest comebacks in Bears' history against the Arizona Cardinals.
Despite helping lead his team to a Super Bowl appearance, many skeptics and players have criticized Urlacher for being overrated.
In a Sports Illustrated poll of 361 NFL players, they said that Urlacher was the second most overrated player in the league after Terrell Owens. Urlacher's response was "just watch the film."
Urlacher has missed only seven games due to injury his entire NFL career.
In 2008, Brian Urlacher played his ninth season with the Bears and registered 93 tackles with two INT's.
Urlacher has six career Pro Bowls and has recorded 1,299 career tackles, the most ever for a Bears player in his first eight seasons.
Brian stands sixth on the team's career sack list with 37.5, which is also the highest amongst all-time Bears' LBs. He is also the third player in Bears' franchise history to record five INTs and five sacks in the same season.
He leads all NFL LBs with eight INTs since 2006 and is tied fifth amongst LBs with 17 total INTs since entering the league in 2000.
So is the Chicago Bears' Brian Urlacher a future Hall of Famer?
Whether he is or not, only time will tell.
I can say as a Bears' fan, it will be very strange when the day comes that another player lines up in the middle of the defense and wears the number 54.