NFL Bears’ Urlacher, Packers’ Kramer enter Hall of Fame
Brian Urlacher became the record-28th Chicago Bear inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A first-year nominee who filled the tradition of outstanding middle linebackers in the Windy City, Urlacher was a safety at New Mexico. Chicago selected him ninth overall in the 2000 draft and immediately converted him to linebacker. He spent two weeks in training camp on the outside, then was moved inside — for 13 seasons.
“I love everything about football: the friendships, the coaches, the teachers, the challenges, the opportunity to excel. I loved going to work every day for 13 years,” said the 2000 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and 2005 Defensive Player of the Year, a season in which Urlacher had 171 tackles.
The Bears won four division titles and one conference championship with Urlacher, their career tackles leader who also had 41 sacks and 22 interceptions. The fivetime All-Pro and member of the 2000s NFL AllDecade Team even did some work on special teams.
But it was in the heart of the defense where he shone.
“The most coveted position for a defensive player to play is middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears,” said Urlacher, who had to hold back tears several times. “Just think about it. I hope over my 13 seasons I made you Bears fans proud.”
The long, long wait for Jerry Kramer ended. At last, the star guard of the Green Bay Packers was inducted.
A senior committee nominee, Kramer became eligible in 1974 after 11 seasons with the Packers in which he won five NFL championships and two Super Bowls. Now 82, he admitted to being bitter when often passed over for the hall, but that any such feelings “disappeared” when he got in this year.
Kramer noted the Packers went 1-10-1, the worst record in their history, when he was a rookie.
“Coach Lombardi arrived and the world turned around,” said Kramer, one of the anchors of the vaunted Green Bay offensive line under Vince Lombardi, and the guy who sprung the block to lead Bart Starr’s quarterback sneak to win the Ice Bowl against Dallas for the 1967 conference title. The Packers then won a second straight Super Bowl.
Kramer also spent some time placekicking for Green Bay. He made five All-Pro squads, the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team, NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s and the Super Bowl Silver Anniversary Team.
He paid tribute to learning the importance of “preparation, commitment, discipline, consistency, pride, tenacity, belief in your team and belief in yourself.”
“It was an incredible experience to be with him and have him bring you along,” he said of Lombardi. “Approval and belief: powerful, powerful tools.”
Inducted prior in the evening were Bobby Beathard, who won four Super Bowls as a team executive and drafted four Pro Football Hall of Famers, and Robert Brazile, who earned that nickname “Dr. Doom” by playing in all 147 games for the Houston Oilers in his 10-year NFL career.
Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Dawkins were scheduled to be inducted later in the evening.
Brian Urlacher delivers his speech during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Canton, Ohio.
Jerry Kramer delivers his induction speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Canton, Ohio.