Bears defensive lineman Brent Urban has made a big splash in an increased role. Here are five things you may not know about him:
(1) He's the only Bears player that has to worry about a work permit.
As a native of Mississauga, Ontario, the Bears' lone Canadian has to deal with the federal government's bureaucracy more than your average defensive lineman.
"I'm actually in the middle of applying for my green card through my marriage," said Urban. "My wife's from the Baltimore/D.C. area, so I'm in the process to do that."
Urban's immigration status can create headaches, especially when he switches teams. When he was released by the Tennesse Titans last season, he needed to apply for and receive a new work visa to sign with Chicago. The process required him to return home to Canada and re-enter the country shortly before his first game against the Detroit Lions.
(2) His first love was hockey.
It's not shocking that Urban likes hockey, the sport closely associated with his home country. However, well into his teen years, Urban was putting just as much effort into pursuing a hockey career as he was in football.
"I was a forward," said Urban. "I'd have the puck in the corner, dump it in, terrorize the defense, get rebounds, that sort of thing. I was a really good skater."
Urban doesn't appear to be wearing rose-colored glasses when looking back on his hockey days. He played on an elite travel team that included future NHLers Ryan Ellis of the Nashville Predators, Casey Cizikas of the New York Islanders and Ben Chiarot of the Montreal Canadiens.
(3) His towering 6-7 frame led him to choose football.
For two years as a teenager, Urban tried to balance his two sports, often attending practices for one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Eventually, his dad told him to make a decision; it turns out, his body made it for him.
Unlike some athletes of his stature, Urban didn't have a sudden growth spurt; he was always the biggest kid in class. However, he began to notice that his size was earning him unwanted scrutiny from referees.
"Playing hockey, just the way the game was going," said Urban, "I was by far bigger than everyone. I'd get a ton of penalties. I didn't see as much of a future [in hockey]."
Urban and his dad hit the road, attending a number of football camps in the eastern United States. By the end of his 11th-grade year (Canadians typically do not use the phrases junior and senior to describe high school grades), Urban had received a handful of offers from ACC schools and committed to the University of Virginia.
(4) His musical tastes match his college choice.
Urban experienced some culture shock when he arrived in Charlottesville, but his musical tastes were already aligned with the South. While he considers his tastes to be eclectic, Urban considers Southern Rock pioneers The Allman Brothers Band to be his favorite musical act.
"I heard the song Mountain Jam, which is just an endless instrumental," said Urban, "It's like 30 minutes long. I thought that was just so cool how they were able to feed off each other and improvise in a live setting."
Urban prefers the band's earliest work, especially their 1971 live album 'At the Fillmore East.' He appreciates the band's work after the death of guitarist Duane Allman—a few months after the album's release--but feels like the work suffers from the lack of Allman's extended guitar riffs.
(5) Chicago reminds him of home.
Urban spent most of the last decade around the same area of the United States, spending five years at the University of Virginia and another five with the Baltimore Ravens.
Urban's hometown, Mississauga, is a part of the Greater Toronto Area, and Urban had heard from friends that the city of Chicago was remarkably similar to the metropolis on the other side of the Great Lakes. Since arriving in Chicago in 2019, he's found the comparison stronger than he expected.
"The size of the cities are very similar," said Urban. "The weather of the cities are very similar. I guess, just how people act [in both cities]. Midwestern people are really comparable to the people in Toronto."