ACC celebs Urlacher, Allen, Hoffman all entering respective Hall of Fames
STATELINE — Brian Urlacher smashes golf balls with about the same aggression he used to crush ball carriers.
He pulls out the driver and all the golf balls in his bag probably wish they could hide.
When the legendary Chicago Bears linebacker hit it pure on Wednesday, while preparing for the opening round of the 29th annual American Century Championship, the ball almost reached the end of the driving range at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. The tournament concludes today.
But he doesn’t always hit it on the sweet spot.
“I’m so uncomfortable on the golf course,” Urlacher told the Tribune in between bashing balls on the range. “It’s so different. In football I knew exactly what I was doing every play. Every swing is different for me on the golf course. I just aim left and hopefully it goes right.”
Urlacher, along with the NBA’s Ray Allen and MLB’s Trevor Hoffman, will all be enshrined this year into their respective Hall of Fames and all are in the 92-player field at the celebrity golf tournament.
Hoffman just two weeks after the ACC will be in Cooperstown, N.Y., Sunday, July 29, for his enshrinement ceremony.
The next week, Urlacher will be in Canton, Ohio, Saturday, Aug. 4, for his induction. Allen will be enshrined on Friday, Sept. 7, in Springfield, Mass.
“It’s a big year for me,” Hoffman said in late June to the Tribune during a press conference at Edgewood. “I’m looking forward to coming here and relaxing a bit before the Hall of Fame gets going, something that I really still can’t wrap my head around. It’s going to be a great class and a lot of fun.”
All three athletes are painstakingly going through every detail of their Hall of Fame speeches. It’s a chance to thank everyone who helped them earn entry to each sports sacred place.
Hoffman was waking up in the middle of the night with ideas and Urlacher is having a hard time because he doesn’t want to forget anyone.
“I want to give everyone their due,” Urlacher said. “It’s been hard trying to find time for each person, to pay them respect that I owe them.”
Allen was the Steph Curry of the NBA before the Warriors two-time MVP and three-time world champion took the association by storm with his long distance shooting prowess.
Allen was a 10-time all star, two-time champ and Olympic gold medalist and is the most prolific shooter in association history from beyond the arc. He’s the career leader in 3-pointers made.
Urlacher came into the NFL and was dominant from the start, leading the Bears in tackles his first four seasons. He played his entire 13-year career for Chicago. He was first team All-Pro four times, was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 and reached the Super Bowl once in 2006.
Hoffman was the first player in history to reach 500 and then 600 saves and was the all time saves leader from 2006 to 2011 before being passed by New York Yankees legend Mariano Rivera. Hoffman, an 18-year veteran, was a seven-time all star and twice finished runner up for the Cy Young award. He retired with an MLB record of 15 20-save seasons, 14 30-save seasons (including eight consecutive), nine 40-save seasons and the highest career strikeout rate of any reliever.
For the trio, coming to Tahoe is their pre-ceremony for their Hall of Fame enshrinements. The celebrity tournament is normally the highlight of the summer for most athletes according to Urlacher. But for those three, the ceremonies for their career achievements following the ACC will be a highlight of their lives.
“It’s a blast being here in Tahoe,” Urlacher said. “It’s the highlight of our summer and most of these guys will probably tell you the same thing. It’s so fun. Competition golf with huge crowds, great golf course, it’s just fun. And great weather more importantly. It’s perfect. Everybody has been really congratulatory. A lot of these guys here are already in their respective Hall of Fames. It’s cool. I definitely didn’t plan on this when I started playing.”
“The excitement is building, but it’s a good excitement,” Hoffman said. “I know its going to be nerve-wracking, but at the same time it will be a great opportunity to honor and talk about those people that helped me get to that point.”