Urlacher to LVE: Embrace "Unfair" Comparisons


As soon as he was drafted, he heard it instantly. He heard it his entire rookie season and it never really went away.

And it's not like being compared to legendary linebacker Dick Butkus was a bad thing, but Brian Urlacher said it was tough standard to live up to.

So he knows exactly how Leighton Vander Esch feels, as the Cowboys rookie has heard nothing but Urlacher comparisons since the day he was drafted last April.

"Yeah, we're both tall, white guys. It happens," Urlacher joked this past week at the Pro Bowl, where he was an NFC captain. "It's tough. It's not fair to him. The same thing happened to me when I was in Chicago my first couple years. They compared me to Butkus. It's not fair to him or the other guys and I hadn't done anything. But all you can do is embrace and set your own standard."

Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowler for the Bears and a 2018 Hall of Fame inductee, was able to visit with Vander Esch a few times this past week in Orlando and from what he's already seen, he said the Cowboys already have a star.

"He's amazing. He's got so much ability," Urlacher said of LVE. "Watching him in practice. They haven't done much this week, but you can see the way he moves. He's already good but he's going to get even better and be really good. He's going to get better and better."

Just as much as his ability, Urlacher loves his approach, saying he's got an "old school" mentality even though he's going to be the future of NFL linebackers.

"He's confident in his ability, which he should be," Urlacher said. "He didn't walk around like he's the man and pound his chest. I like that about him. He plays the game the right way. As an old guy, I appreciate that. He's what football is now. He's a big fast kid who can get to the football."

Urlacher said he's told Vander Esch several times now that he's only getting started. The real challenge is trying to get back to the Pro Bowl again, and again.

"Now you have to get better. Now you know who you are and they're going to look after him," he said. "With the Cowboys, they have some players. Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, that defense is good. He's only going to get better. Every year he'll learn more and more. His experience will happen. Being around these guys and wanting to come back even more."