By Chris Emma

By Chris Emma–

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (670 The Score) — Before those closest to Brian Urlacher could speak to his game-changing play at middle linebacker, his tremendous talents and legendary performances, they mentioned how humble he was through it all.

That side of Urlacher was certain Saturday as he took the stage with the 2018 class to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He kept gazing to his right at the likes of Randy Moss and Ray Lewis, whom he believed were locks to the class, and struggled to consider his place among them.

During his 13 seasons as a star for the Bears, Urlacher refused to count himself with the likes of Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus because he wasn’t a Hall of Famer.

Now, Urlacher has no choice but to consider himself elite.

“If history says that, I guess I’m a part of that category now,” Urlacher said. “It’s a great honor to be associated with the Hall of Fame and now to be in it. It’s awesome. This experience has been very cool for me. Very humbling.”

Urlacher had taken it all in stride before Saturday, refusing to get his hopes high for the first-ballot candidacy to Canton. But he admitted there were nerves during the day as he waited in a hotel room in nearby Bloomington and waited for a knock on the door. Urlacher even forgot to remove the “DO NOT DISTURB” sign from the handle.

The powerful knock of David Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, echoed through his room, and the moment Urlacher said he never could’ve imagined became a reality.

“Coming from a small town in New Mexico — Lovington, New Mexico — I was very happy to go to college for free and get a scholarship to play college football,” Urlacher said.

Urlacher joins an eight-man class that is comprised of Lewis, Moss, Brian Dawkins, Terrell Owens, Jerry Kramer, Robert Brazile and Bobby Beathard. Induction for the 2018 class will come the first weekend of August from Canton, Ohio.

One can only imagine how many Bears fans will make the trip to see Urlacher inducted among the game’s greats. NFL Network host Rich Eisen said it well in introducing Urlacher to the NFL Honors stage, announcing him as “the quintessential Chicago linebacker.”

“He just falls right into that whole group,” Singletary said of Urlacher.

Urlacher took the moments after Baker knocked on his door and texted coaches from every level of his football career to say thanks. He thought of the late Mark Hatley, the Bears general manager who ended the draft room debate between Urlacher and Plaxico Burress, Lovie Smith, whose defense he fit so well, and so many others instrumental in his career.

Urlacher was moved to learn there are just 318 members to the Hall of Fame and just 28 linebackers. A unique selection process has brought such great joy to many of the game’s greats — and kept many more waiting for that knock on the door. Owens left Minnesota and returned home, fearing he would be disappointed again.

Before Saturday, Urlacher kept his mind from drifting to Canton. He handled media obligations and spoke of the opportunity but refused to get his hopes high. Urlacher could never consider himself truly great without a bronze bust for proof.

The humble superstar now can call himself a Hall of Famer.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670 The Score 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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