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Urlacher 'trying not to think' about Hall of Fame vote


Brian Urlacher would love to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the Selection Committee meets Saturday in Minnesota, but the former Bears star is not dwelling on it.

"I try not to think about it because I don't want to be disappointed," Urlacher said while being interviewed by close friend and former Bears teammate Lance Briggs this week on NBC Sports Chicago. "I've heard people say, 'It's going to be great.' And then I've heard guys say, 'Oh man, I was ready and I didn't get in.' So there's both ends of the spectrum.

"I'd love to get in. I think it would be amazing. It's a big accomplishment. But it doesn't change what I did on the football field. Whether you're in the Hall of Fame or not, it doesn't change what you meant to your teammates, what you meant to your team or how people viewed you as a football player.

"Being in the Hall of Fame, some people may justify how good they were. In my opinion, it doesn't change the teammate I was or the way I played the football game. It may [provide] a little bit of validation in some people's minds, but not mine because I know what kind of player I was and I know whatever happens between now and the voting, my stats aren't going to get any better. So between now and then, nothing's going to change football-wise."

Urlacher played his entire 13-year NFL career with the Bears after being selected with the ninth pick in the 2000 draft out of New Mexico. Fueled by a rare combination of size, speed and toughness, he was voted to eight Pro Bowls, was named NFL Rookie of the Year in 2000 and was selected NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.

Urlacher was a four-time All-Pro who helped the Bears win four division titles and reach the Super Bowl in 2006. He started 180 of 182 games played with the Bears, recording 1,779 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles. The only players who've started more games for the team are Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton (184) and center Olin Kreutz (183).

Urlacher is one of 15 modern-era finalists. The others are Tony Boselli, Isaac Bruce, Brian Dawkins, Alan Faneca, Steve Hutchinson, Joe Jacoby, Edgerrin James, Ty Law, Ray Lewis, John Lynch, Kevin Mawae, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Everson Walls.

The 15 modern-era finalists are joined by two senior finalists (Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer) and one contributor finalist (Bobby Beathard). The Selection Committee will ultimately elect 4-8 new members of the Hall of Fame, and the Class of 2018 will be enshrined in Canton in August.

The Bears have 27 Hall of Famers, the most of any NFL team. Asked who he thinks of when he's asked about a Hall of Famer, Urlacher didn't hesitate.

"Walter Payton," Urlacher said. "You could ask me any question about the Bears or football and I would say Walter Payton. Reflecting back on everything that he did and playing for the Bears all those years, looking back, that dude was unbelievable. You could compare other running backs to him, but there's nobody close in my opinion to Walter Payton and what he did."

Urlacher will be featured on "The Case for Canton" at 10:30 p.m. Friday on NBC Sports Chicago.

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