Brian Urlacher has heard enough detractors in his time, including one national publication declaring him the most overrated player in the NFL based on its poll.
A number of other very, very credible sources hold a decidedly different opinion.
Urlacher has emerged at No. 5 in ESPNs list of 20 current players who would be forces in any era, not just this one. None other than Jim Brown, the Cleveland legend, says of Urlacher: Brian Urlacher plays an intelligent game but is also very physical and very tough. He can apply his physicality with a mentality that fits into the game plan. His mental toughness is as good as it gets.
The list has a couple of seriously interesting aspects, and a couple of utterly bizarre ones that throw the whole thing into more than a little question.
Tim Tebow (yes, that Tim Tebow) came in at No. 19. Peyton Manning was No. 20. Go figure.
Urlacher finished well up on the list ahead of Tom Brady (No. 11), James Harrison (No. 10) and Aaron Rodgers (No. 9).
What makes the list doubly interesting is looking at it in reverse.
The panel of selectors included Brown, Mike Ditka, John Randle, Jerry Rice and more than a dozen other Hall of Fame players. Think Brown, 232 pounds, 6-foot-2, could play in the current era? How about Ditka, 6-foot-3, 235?
Or how about Butkus? 6-foot-3, 245, fast and in the Ray Lewis mold (or vice versa)? Critics are fond of denigrating Butkus and players like him, probably because they were white (actually they still are), just like the experts of that era didnt think African Americans could play quarterback, center or middle linebacker.
But thats another issue for another time. All you need to know is that John Randle was 6-foot-1, 270 pounds, an undrafted runt defensive tackle, and he did play in this era of road-grader guards.
When you look at the so-called eras, look past the superficials and look at the players. Like Brown. Like Urlacher.