Brian Urlacher has been a Bear longer than any teammate other than long snapper Patrick Mannelly, coming in the first round of the 2000 draft.
He also has been a team captain since early in his career, an honor reflecting what players and coaches think of his leadership and persona.
That honor took the form of the teams annual Ed Block Courage Award on Tuesday, an award voted on by players and given to Urlacher who had to cope with the death of his mother Lavoyda Lenard last September.
Ive always appreciated my teammates and the organization always being there, Urlacher said. Its a family organization and it shows when something like that happened to me. They were there for me and the same goes for the locker room; the guys were there for me.
Lovie Smith inherited Urlacher when he succeeded Dick Jauron as Bears coach in 2004 and has seen Urlachers character in action both on and off the field.
You could give Brian some type of award every year and no one would be surprised, Smith said. Hes been a captain every year Ive been here, and Ive made the statement that hes the best superstar youll ever have a chance to be around... Hes not just a captain who goes out there for the coin toss.