Some players want to thank their high-school or collegiate coaches when they reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Some name former pro coaches or teammates. But former Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher didn't mention coaches or teammates when it came to choosing the one person responsible for putting him in Canton.
"My Mom," he said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, referring to Lavoyda Urlacher. "That's a pretty simple answer for me right there. My Mom passed away in 2011. My parents divorced when I was 6 or 7 years old, and my Mom took us to New Mexico.
"Single mother. Three young kids -- my brother, sister and I all a year apart. I'm in the middle. And my Dad didn't pay a lot of child support, if any. So she took us there, and she worked three jobs to make sure we were fed, clothed, went to school. Just one of the hardest working people I've ever met.
"My Mom busted her tail for us kids. She's who I learned a lot of my work ethic from ... I feel like, whether it be in the weight room or on the field or whatever. She's who I learned the most from ... just from watching her."
But Urlacher, a first-ballot choice for the Hall-of-Fame's Class of 2018, made it clear his mother's influence extended far beyond his work ethic.
"She saw me play a bunch," he said. "She saw me my whole career, up until my last year. And it's funny, the last game she saw me play, we played Atlanta at Soldier Field, (and) I had a pick, I had a sack and I had a recovery for a touchdown. She passed away two days later (she died unexpectedly at the age of 51). So to know that she saw me play one of my very best games before she passed away meant a lot to me.
"Also, you said all those things about me being a good player and hard worker, but, more importantly to me and her, was being a good father. I think that was important to me and important to her. How she raised me to be with my kids meant a lot to her. I have her to thank a lot. I feel like I'm a pretty good Dad, so that's the way she raised me to be."