Brian Urlacher gives his Hall of Fame speech.

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Joniak's Journal: Brian Urlacher Enters Hall Of Fame With Class

"Football did not define me, but it clearly has helped me be a better man," Urlacher said. 

Jeff Joniak
August 05, 2018 - 10:39 am
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CANTON, Ohio (WBBM Newsradio) -- Bears legend Brian Urlacher was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday evening. Here and the sights and sounds of the night.

First impression

Only 318 men are member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Urlacher is No. 318 on the enshrinement list. 

On Saturday evening, he became the 28th Bears Hall of Famer, passionately delivering his acceptance speech with humility, humor, love, respect and sincerity. 

"Football did not define me, but it clearly has helped me be a better man," Urlacher said. 

Urlacher explained where he came from, who he is, what he became as a football player and what he became as a man. Most importantly, he referenced how his love of family, friends, teammates and coaches empowered his career and sustains him in retirement. 

"The two pillars of my life are family and football," Urlacher said.

Urlacher fought back tears several times but none more so than talking about his late mother, Lovoyda Lynn Lenard.

"My mother definitely taught me the importance of learning my way," Urlacher said. "Mother, thank you. If it wasn’t for you, I definitely wouldn’t be here today."

Urlacher called Lavoyda the hardest-working person he’s ever known while paying homage to his stepfather as well. Welling up with emotion, he thanked him.

"You are not only my step-father; you are my father," Urlacher said. "Thank you, dad, for helping a young boy who needed direction and a role model for coming into our lives when you did."  

As we’ve come to know about Urlacher, he loves being a father himself and gushed about his three children and about his wife of three years.

Urlacher’s speech was superb, raw and personal.

Second thought

After the ceremony a few reporters caught Urlacher before he wrapped up the evening. He was exhausted and relieved, admitting he had nerves because of a general aversion to speeches.

"Hell yeah, I was nervous," Urlacher said. "I hate talking in front of anybody. It’s just not my thing. Didn’t you see my hands shaking?" 

He wanted to strike the right tone. His passion and love of the game and his family and his respect for teammates came through in a bold way.   

"I may be one of the most competitive people you will ever know," Urlacher said. "It wasn’t merely about the conquest. It was about the challenge -- every moment, every practice, every game, everywhere. I just love competing. Competition is in my DNA.”

And he was honored to compete as a Bear.

"Becoming a Bear was like playing for family," Urlacher said. "And to play my entire career with one team was a testament to the tradition of the Chicago Bears. I know this is due to our founding father, George Halas." 

Urlacher thanked Virginia Halas McCaskey and George Halas McCaskey for continuing that legacy.

Third degree

Urlacher had great support from friends and family in Canton for the entire week. Former teammates and coaches arrived as well. Carolina ownership put current Panthers coach and former Bears linebacker Ron Rivera, tight end Greg Olsen and defensive end Julius Peppers on a plane bound for Canton.

Mike Brown and Charles Tillman beamed at the opportunity to support Urlacher. Alex Brown, Roberto Garza and many more made the trip as well.

"I’m a little mad I didn’t ... you know, it’s hard to get all your coaches in there," Urlacher said. "Just so many people that helped me and I couldn’t get them all in there because I wanted to be respectful of everybody else’s time."

The only coach Urlacher chose to mention was his presenter, Bob Babich, his former linebackers coach and defensive coordinator whom he called his favorite coach and also a brother and father to him. It was no slight, he said, to leave out Lovie Smith, Greg Blache, Rivera or any of the other coaches in his career.

Fourth-and-short

"In case you didn’t know, our fans love defense," Urlacher said. "The most coveted position in all of football is to play middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears."

Enough said.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.