Brian Urlacher is amazed by the support he received from around the NFL after the passing of his mother earlier this season, and the Chicago Bears star said he hasn't canceled her cell phone so he can still hear her voice on her voice mail greeting.
Making his first extensive comments since his mother, Lavoyda Lenard, passed away on Sept. 12, Urlacher told ESPN's Rachel Nichols he felt a swell of support from fellow players, including some from teams in the NFC North.
"I think that speaks to what kind of person she was and how boisterous and outgoing she was," Urlacher said. "The support we received was unreal. Guys who I had met before but I didn't have their phone numbers were texting me, calling me. I got some actual hand-written letters from some players. I couldn't tell you the last time I wrote a letter, to just sit down and write on a card to another player ... and some of the guys were in our division so that was really cool.
"I didn't realize it would have this big of an effect, but it was really cool to see that kind of support."
Lenard, 51, unexpectedly passed away at her home outside of Mount Pleasant, Texas.
"She wasn't in great health," Urlacher said. "She had a lot of back issues. She smoked. My mom smoked since she was 14 until she was 51 so that probably didn't help her situation any, but we're still waiting to find out what exactly happened."
Lenard's funeral was the day before the Bears played in New Orleans against the Saints, but Urlacher found support from many of his teammates, coaches and team personnel who flew down to New Mexico for the service.
"It says what kind of teammates they are and friends," Urlacher said. "The best thing I think I could have done is come back to work that week. It was hard for me to relax and have a good time, but they made me laugh. Those guys on their own dime, some of them chartered planes to come down ... it's not easy to get to my hometown where the funeral was."
Almost two months later, Urlacher said he misses seeing texts from his mother pop up on his phone.
"She would always text me the night before games," Urlacher said. "That's what I miss ... she used to text me all the time. And I'm used to looking at my phone and there's a text from mom on there. That's been the hardest thing to deal with so far.
"I still have her number in there. We still have her voice mail set up on her phone. We haven't canceled her phone yet so if we want to call and listen to her voice we can do that."