Chicago Bears legend Mike Singletary: 'I wish we won more Super Bowls'
April 19, 2020
Hall of Famer and Chicago Bears legend Mike Singletary is one of the greatest middle linebackers in the history of the National Football League.
Singletary was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998, and he led the Bears to a Super Bowl title in 1985. He was known as “the heart of the defense” for arguably the greatest defensive unit in the history of the league.
For his stellar play at linebacker in defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan’s “46” defense, Singletary won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award that same year.
Singletary caught up with Fox News on Thursday talking about the coronavirus pandemic. He also touched on what he’s willing to do to get back into coaching, and his draft experience back during the 1981 NFL Draft. He went into more detail about players who remind him of himself, the major differences in today’s game, and if the Bears deserved another Super Bowl title during his playing career. He detailed his thoughts in a Q&A with Fox News.
Mike Singletary #50 of the Chicago Bears in action an NFL football game at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Singletary played for the Bears from 1981-92. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Fox News: Who are some players in today’s game that reminds you of yourself?
Singletary: In all honesty, the game is so different. The middle linebacker is not the same as when I played, and when some of the other guys played. The middle linebacker now is more the outside linebacker, and that started happening toward the end of my career. It’s more defensive ends, defensive backs, those kinds of things. Now, because of that, the game has changed so much.
There’s not as much focus on the middle linebacker. His role is a bit different than in the era that I played in. It’s hard for me to pick a guy. The last guy that I can say that was similar to me was (Baltimore Ravens linebacker) Ray Lewis. After that, I had a couple of guys in San Francisco, I had Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. There was some resemblance there. Of course, at that time, there were other linebackers around the league, who I thought were good as well.
Fox News: What are some of the major differences in today’s game compared to when you played?
Singletary: I think the major difference, before I talk about players, talent and all those other things, is the rules. Whenever you want to change the game, you change the rules. Whenever you want to change society, you change the rules. And when I look at our game, the rules changed. And I think there are guys that when particularly television got involved in the game and said, ‘Hey, we got to do something different here.’ And I think television made us look at how the game was played, and how we need to do it a little differently. Television really dictated that we need a star. We need somebody to be the star. We need a story. A beginning, a middle and an ending. And I think that star was the quarterback.
If we’re going to have the NFL, we’re going to make sure that we have a star. And when the rules changed for a quarterback, and how you approach him, and how you can’t hit him the way you used to. And when rules changed for the people that the quarterback throws to, which are the wide receivers. You can’t hit those guys. You can only bump-and-run for five yards, and now you can’t hit them anymore. That’s pretty amazing to me because those guys run 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, and I’m running backward, and I can only have my hands on him for five yards.
The rules changed. I just feel like, at the end of the day, it is a different game. Healthwise, it is a better game, for the most part. I think there are things that we can do in the offseason that would help injury-wise overall. I do think the physicality of the game is some unnecessary stuff. And they’ve changed that. And I’m all for it. And it made the game much better.
Fox News: Does it hurt knowing that you never won multiple Super Bowls?
Singletary: I look at it this way. The 49ers were a good team that year in 1984. And for us, we were young and hungry. The year we won the Super Bowl, we were the youngest team to ever win the Super Bowl. The year we played the 49ers, we didn’t have Jim McMahon. We missed him. And so, it’s hard to win a Super Bowl when you don’t have that guy pulling the trigger. Everything has to be rockin’ when you’re going to the Super Bowl. The momentum, everything has to be rockin’. And I think that’s something we missed.
This is what I take away from it. When I think of the year that we went to the Super Bowl. We had a great team, and we had great coaches. But I learned something from that. I was really frustrated for those three or four years that I really thought we should have gone to the Super Bowl again. It wasn’t so much the players. We were so hungry the year we went to the Super Bowl. We were so hungry. You were not going to deny us a Super Bowl. We have made up our minds, we made up our hearts, we had done the work, we had won. But because we were so young, when we did go to the Super Bowl, Chicago was up for grabs. It was every man for himself. And we didn’t have the wisdom. Buddy Ryan was gone. There were so many distractions, and we were kind of selfish as a team.
We thought we really didn’t need the other guy. We thought we are defense, we don’t need offense. And the offense thought, ‘We are doing better now that we have Jim McMahon.’ We just did not appreciate each other enough. When you’re going to the Super Bowl, I don’t care how great your team is, you have to have a team that is one. It’s not the team that really has the best athletes, and all that other stuff, it is the team that is playing the team football that is going to go to the Super Bowl. And we didn’t have that.
For the next couple of years, we were so exhausted through all of the drama that we were going through. ‘This guy is mad at him’ and ‘this guy is making more money’ and ‘this guy is getting more endorsements.’ When I look back at it, it was fair that we only won one Super Bowl. I wish we won more Super Bowls, but I wish I had done a much better job as a leader. I wish I came to camp with a bat one day and started whaling on people because we had something really special, but we were just too young and too immature to see it. We needed each other, and we didn’t have that love that we needed as a team. We certainly loved each other, but as a team we didn’t have it.
Fox News: Was winning the Super Bowl the greatest moment of your career?
Singletary: Yeah, I would say it was the greatest experience. It was the ultimate experience. Winning a Super Bowl and having a goal and a desire to be great. And winning that Super Bowl kind of puts the final period at the end of that season. So, absolutely.
Dan Canova is a Sports Reporter for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @DanCanova
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