ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Brian Urlacher’s No. 44 will be retired after all.
The University of New Mexico had decided to break from its policy against retiring football numbers because of the unique contributions Urlacher made as a Lobo from 1996-99.
Schools including Nebraska and Michigan currently retire jerseys but keep the actual number in circulation for their football programs. Ohio State retired seven jerseys before halting the procedure, which is why the No. 10 of 2006 Buckeyes Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith is still active.
The University of Colorado has three retired football jerseys, like New Mexico, but Colorado no longer engages in the process because none of its head coaches in sports that utilize numbered jerseys wants to take any more numbers out of circulation.
UNM has a similar policy, which it will continue to use in all sports, but is adjusting to honor Urlacher.
“After further consideration and after conferring with head coach Bob Davie, we have decided to change our stance against retiring jerseys to honor Brian Urlacher,” UNM vice president for athletics Paul Krebs said. “It’s such a special set of circumstances that we felt altering our protocol was the right thing to do.”
Urlacher led the nation in tackles in 1998 with a school-record 178 stops. He was the Mountain West Player of the Year in 1999, leading the Lobos and the Mountain West in tackles with 154 in 1999. He led UNM in touchdowns scored with seven – six as a wide receiver. He also was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes annually to the nation’s top defensive back.
Urlacher retired over the summer after a spectacular 13-year career as middle linebacker of the Chicago Bears. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro selection. He was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2000 and later became the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2005. He holds the Bears’ record for career tackles and was voted to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.
UNM will honor all four Lobo Football Legends – Mike Williams (40), Bobby Santiago (42), Don Perkins (43) and Urlacher (44) – by showcasing the jerseys of the four at University Stadium.
To commemorate the occasion, UNM is announcing a promotion, “The Urlacher Special” to pay tribute to his No. 44 Lobo jersey. The special includes four general admission tickets, four regular hot dogs and four small soft drinks for $44. Only 444 of these special-purchase units are available, so act fast. This special is available only in person at the Lobo Ticket Office or online at www.unmtickets.com.
Also as part of Heroes Day, all fans with a valid military ID can purchase Turquoise Level tickets for $10 each. There will be a Heroes Day display in our Howl Zone and Wounded Warriors recognition during the game. The first 2,000 fans will receive Heroes Day mini replica helmets.
Urlacher will be in attendance at the UNM-Air Force game. Make plans now to see the newest Lobo Legend in person Nov. 8 on Branch Field at University Stadium.