Brian Urlacher and Robert Brazile now sit at the zenith of the linebacking world, but they arrived at the Pro Football Hall of Fame this month in far different ways. Urlacher was one of three first-ballot Hall-of-Fame selections in the Class of 2018, while Brazile had to wait 29 years and go through the withering senior committee process to receive his due from selectors.
Urlacher and Brazile each spent time this week recalling for our Talk of Fame Network listeners how their elections changed their lives and their stations in pro football history. What surprised Urlacher most was his sudden anxiety as the day of voting approached.
“Through the whole process leading up to Minneapolis (where the vote was held the day before the Super Bowl) I wasn’t that nervous,’’ Urlacher said. “I didn’t have a feeling on whether I was going to get in or not. I didn’t have any kind of feel what so over.
“That morning and afternoon the nerves were clicking. I don’t know why. I’m not a nervous guy normally.’’
As it turned out, Urlacher had nothing to worry about. The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year joined two other first-ballot selectees, Ray Lewis and Randy Moss, along with Terrell Owens, Brian Dawkins, senior nominees Brazile and Jerry Kramer and contributor Bobby Beathard to form this year’s class. But Urlacher had some encouraging words for Patriots’ cornerback Ty Law, who for the second year in a row reached the final 10 before being eliminated in the reduction to five finalists.
“There’s so many good players on those ballots,’’ Urlacher said. “Take the five modern era guys who got in this year off the ballot and pick five more, and that’s a great class. You pick five of the other 10 left on there, and that’s a pretty good class, too. It’s just hard to differentiate who gets in and who doesn’t get in.’’
Few know that better than “Dr. Doom,’’ the nickname by which Brazile was known when he was becoming the prototype 3-4 linebacker Lawrence Taylor says he modeled his game after. When his day finally came, Brazile made a point of sharing it in spirit with the coach he says was his greatest supporter.
Brazile wore a belt buckle given to him by Bum Phillips, his coach with the Oilers and someone who always insisted Brazile belonged in Canton. Brazile said he didn’t wear that buckle “until it was time for me to get those 80 percent votes (needed to reach the Hall). I finally got the knock.
“This is the ultimate. Ever since I got that knock on the door there’s been a whole different Robert …Football years ago didn’t love me like it does right now. Football is telling me ‘Robert, we appreciate what you did.' ’’
Our Talk of Fame Network hosts, Ron Borges, Clark Judge and Rick Gosselin, also sat down with long-time San Francisco columnist Ray Ratto of NBC Sports Bay Area to recall the remarkable 18-year career of Oakland Raiders’ kicker Sebastian Janikowski. When then Raiders' owner Al Davis made Janikowski a first-round draft choice in 2000, he was roundly criticized. But Ratto viewed that pick as “one of Al’s most inspired moments.’’
Also joining us is Hall-of-Fame voter Scott Garceau, the original voice of the Baltimore Ravens, to nominate the next Raven he'd promote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as our "Best of the Rest" series continues.
There’s all that and much more on this week’s show. You can hear it all on SB Nation radio or by downloading the free podcast at iTunes or on the TuneIn app or by visiting our website, talkoffamenetworkcom and clicking on the helmet icon.