Bears coach John Fox on Brian Urlacher: ‘The best in the business’

John Fox doesn’t want to upset anyone else — and, yes, Ray Lewis would be a bad man to anger — but he thinks Brian Urlacher was the ultimate middle linebacker of his era.

“I think to come in here being a DB for most of your career in college, then transforming into a middle linebacker — and the best in the business that I remember during that time,” the Bears coach said Tuesday. “Hope I’m not offending anybody else. He was good in both the run and pass. He was sideline-to-sideline. You couldn’t get away from him because he’s right in the middle of the defense. He was part of a lot of really good defenses here in that time, and I thought he was a dominant player.”

Fox said Urlacher, who was one of 108 nominees named Tuesday night, deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“In my opinion, yes,” Fox said. “But I don’t think my phone is ringing off the hook right now asking for my vote. I wish him nothing but the best though.”

Former Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (54) and outside linebacker Lance Briggs (55) warm up before an NFL football game. | Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

What was spectacular about Urlacher’s career, Fox said, was that he played a different position in college — safety, albeit with some hybrid “Monster” responsibilities — before moving to middle linebacker in the NFL.

Nick Kwiatkoski started his college career as a safety, too, but began studying linebackers, including Urlacher, when he moved there at West Virginia.

“I can go on and on,” the Bears linebacker said. “He was a great player. He just had that instinct, that linebacker instinct. He was athletic. He made plays in the run game, pass game. Had an all-around complete game.”

The list will be cut to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in January before inductees are chosen the day before the Super Bowl.

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