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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Sport or Fitness (02/15/07)

TITLE: New Mexico’s Favorite Son
By Carol Dee Meeks


I hold a brief and memorable encounter in my heart every time I hear Bryan Urlacher’s name. On a cold winter night almost one and a half decades ago, I watched him play basketball against my son’s high school team. It was a hard-fought battle as Bryan’s team scored more points than my son’s team did. Lovington always beat Artesia in basketball, but Artesia got them in football every time.

Bryan was a perpetual progress of hard work and success in everything he did. After his high school graduation from Lovington High School, we read in the Albuquerque Journal he was playing football for the University of New Mexico. He was an inside linebacker in his freshman and sophomore years at the University then was moved to the lobo/free-safety position his junior and senior years by UNM’S head coach Rocky Long.

My husband and I made the one-way, four hour trip to Albuquerque several times to watch Bryan Urlacher play football. It was no surprise to us to learn of his 442 career tackles which won him the NCAA Division I “Defenders Award” with 178 tackles in 1998.

“How did playing basketball help him on the football field?” I asked my husband driving home one night after watching Bryan help defeat the New Mexico State Aggies from Las Cruces.

“Not sure, but today he was a one-man wrecking machine.”

“Maybe the Cowboys will draft him. Wow! How exciting that would be.” I drifted into dreamland knowing the Cowboys would again be on top.

“The Cowboys could use him, that’s for sure.” Pat answered with his smile.

New Mexicans’ view Bryan as: The Best, The Chosen One, A Media Icon, One of the State’s Favorite Sons, and URL. He was the 1999 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year and a Thorpe Award finalist for the country‘s best defensive back. He was also an All-American. I think New Mexico knows a good thing when they see it.

In the April 14, 2000, Albuquerque Journal, Mel Kiper Jr., a draft analyst for ESPN, rated Bryan as the fifth-best senior college prospect in America. He was picked ninth by the Chicago Bears making him the highest selected player from the University of New Mexico breaking Robin Cole’s 1977 twenty-first pick by the Pittsburg Steelers. Bryan was listed, in the draft, as his character being his strongest point. Again, I say New Mexico knows a good thing when they see it.

One night, our oldest son called to say he had tickets to the Dallas Cowboys/Chicago Bears game at Texas Stadium. Excitement rose as game day finally arrived. We were again going to see New Mexico’s Favorite, and we could not wait to get to the game. We made a sign that read:

Bryan Urlacher
you played
against my son

About halfway into the third quarter, the announcement came that Bryan did not make the trip due to illness. My poster suddenly became very heavy. Most of the people in the stadium were wearing his jersey. Moans rang out. Oh Well! The Cowboys won the game.

Bryan’s basketball skills are not known by many, but he hosted an AFC ALL-STARS vs. NFC ALL-STARS Basketball Extravaganza in Albuquerque in 2001. Fifteen National Football League players participated in this event and proceeds went to benefit the New Mexico America Football League. Thousands of youngsters have benefited from this football showdown.

But basketball is not his talent. This Chicago line backer who was named as the 2005 National Football League’s Defensive Player of the Year, and is deemed Chicago’s poster boy, has been pegged as the silent quarterback for his Bear’s team. His intelligence for defensive signals allows him to think beyond the game and helps him guide the Bears defense against the opposing offenses.

He is all business on the field and has been the key factor in bringing the Bears their participation in Super Bowl XLI against the Colts. (I found an interesting stat, both teams have scored 427 points this football season.)

For Super Bowl XLI, move over Dallas, the Bears are playing for the championship with New Mexico’s Favorite Native Son leading the way. And New Mexico will salute him once more, as their “chosen one“, the most successful Lobo football player ever.

715 words

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This article has been read 682 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jacquelyn Horne02/22/07
Enjoyed the read. Interesting to know that Stars are often just everyday people who make it to the top while climbing the mountain of life.
Donna Powers 02/26/07
very interesting. You certainly helped us get to know him. Nicely written