Adewale Ogunleye shares a great Brian Urlacher story.
Brian Urlacher always made an impact on the field for the Chicago Bears, but sometimes it’s the impact players make off the field that are just as important.
Everyone has heard Urlacher’s on-field accolades: 8x Pro Bowler, 4x first-team All Pro, Defensive Player of the Year, NFL 2000s All-Decade team, the list goes on and on.
Throughout his career, Urlacher always had the label as a “lead by example” type of leader. He was never really considered an outspoken vocal leader in the clubhouse, but just because you aren’t giving motivational speeches in the locker room, that doesn’t mean Urlacher didn’t lead and have an impact.
Former Bears’ defensive end Adewale Ogunleye shared a great story that shows you just what type of leader Urlacher was. Ogunleye was a guest on the podcast, “The Fish Tank” hosted by former Dolphin OJ McDuffie and Seth Levit. You can check out the full podcast here.
If you recall, Ogunleye was traded to the Bears from the Miami Dolphins for wide receiver Marty Booker. Apparently, Ogunleye wasn’t pleased he was in Chicago, despite getting a hefty contract extension, and his poor attitude resulted in a rough first year in Chicago where he only tallied five sacks after registering 15 the year before.
It was at that point that Urlacher knew he needed to step in. Here’s the story in the words of Ogunleye:
"The Chicago thing happened, and I get miserable for a year. The funny thing is, you brought up Marty Booker, so Urlacher sits me down and says, “Listen they loved Marty Booker in Chicago so you better get your head out yo ass.” Like, he was beloved. So now, imagine the pressure on my head. You know, they gave me the contract, they traded basically their favorite offensive player, like, they loved him. He was loved and I’m glad Urlacher sat me down and told me that because it kinda helped me shake that funk I was in."
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Ogunleye went out to have a very solid career in Chicago. Every season he spent in Chicago was better than his first year, and in his second year, Ogunleye jumped back up into a double-digit sack total with 10.
Listening to Ogunleye, he really credits Urlacher for turning around his career in Chicago. You have to wonder, if Urlacher never sat him down and really explained to him what this trade meant to the organization and the fans and what type of player they gave up for him, perhaps Ogunleye doesn’t become the impact player for Chicago that they needed.
Urlacher was a great player and deserves every ounce of his first ballot hall of fame status, but it’s stories like this one that show you the type of impact Urlacher made for the Bears off the field as well.