He’s the pride of Pasco.
Yes, it is an irrefutable, immutable fact that Brian Urlacher was born on May 25, 1978, in Pasco, Wash.
That fact makes Urlacher no less New Mexico’s own, and that’s no less irrefutable and immutable.
Still, when Urlacher’s Pro Football Hall of Fame bio goes up on the organization’s website — whether that happens this year or later — New Mexico will be listed as his college, but Pasco will be listed as his birthplace.
Lovington, the southeastern New Mexico city in which Urlacher grew up and which of course has a far stronger claim to him, will not appear.
I’m just wondering if Pasco would be willing to accept some step-aside inducement — some Hatch green chile, perhaps, to go with the poblanos and habaneros that folks grow up there for their annual Fiery Foods Festival.
Really, that’s as it should be.
As young children (I’ve found no bio that says exactly when), Urlacher and younger brother Casey moved with their mother from Pasco to Lovington.
After a sterling athletic career at Lovington High School, Urlacher accepted a football scholarship at the University of New Mexico. He led the nation in tackles as a junior and was a consensus first-team All-American as a senior.
He went on to a play 13 years at middle linebacker for the NFL’s Chicago Bears, making eight Pro Bowl appearances and four times being named All-Pro. He’s that storied franchise’s all-time leading tackler.
Today, there’s a solid chance he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame. Even if he doesn’t make it in this class, his first year of eligibility, he’s considered a mortal lock to eventually be inducted.
Urlacher would be the first player from a New Mexico college to make the Hall. Only one New Mexico native (excluding Ronnie Lott’s cup of Gerber’s finest during his brief childhood stay in Albuquerque, and more about that later) is in: the mercurial Tommy McDonald, who caught 495 passes in the NFL after an All-America career at the University of Oklahoma.
Born in the northeast New Mexico town of Roy — as duly noted in his Hall of Fame bio — McDonald, now 83, played his prep football at Highland High in Albuquerque.
When McDonald was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998, the Journal sent associate sports editor Mike Hall to Canton, Ohio, for coverage of the ceremony.
As has McDonald, Urlacher has lived out of state for most of his adult life. But, though he has homes in the Phoenix and Chicago areas, he always has maintained a presence in his home state (New Mexico, not Washington).
His ties to Lovington run deep; the high school’s training facility bears his name. He has many friends in Albuquerque, and he loves Frontier Restaurant’s signature sweet rolls.
To our knowledge, there is nothing named for Urlacher in Pasco, and he has never attended the Fiery Food Festival to sample those habaneros and poblanos. The Tri-City Herald, which reports the news in Pasco, doesn’t appear to be following the Urlacher Hall of Fame story.
Nor have Pasco and the state of Washington made a concerted effort to make Url truly their own — any more than we here have attempted to do so with Lott, who was born in Albuquerque but grew up in California. Albuquerque is correctly listed by the Hall of Fame as Lott’s birthplace, but Rialto, Calif., is his de facto hometown.
Full disclosure: Urlacher is listed as a famous Pascoan (along with former Major League pitchers Bruce Kison and Jeremy Bonderman) on the city’s Wikipedia page. And, yes, of course, Url is listed on Lovington’s Wikipedia page, along with his close friend, pro golfer Sean Murphy.
And, yes, Lott is listed on Albuquerque’s Wikipedia page, along with former Eldorado Eagle and NFL quarterback Jim Everett and former UNM and Dallas Cowboys running back Don Perkins — neither of whom was born in New Mexico but rose to prominence here.
Wikipedia, it seems, makes its own rules on such things as it goes along.
Why can’t the Hall of Fame do the same?