Mike Singletary on 1981 NFL Draft: 'Please let me get drafted by the Chicago Bears'
April 19, 2020
Mike Singletary remembers the 1981 NFL Draft as if it were yesterday.
Prior to the draft, Singletary recalls teams telling him that they really liked how he played football, but they were just not sure if he could hold up in the NFL because of his size. Singletary, who was 5-foot-11 during his playing career, said despite teams feeling like he wouldn’t be a first-round pick, he felt like his film from college spoke for itself.
“I was quite excited,” Singletary said. “I was anticipating something different, and it happened. When my name kept getting passed through, I had three different teams call me, and they said, ‘Mike Singletary, there’s a possibility that we may draft you, it’s either going to be you or the other guy.’ Those three teams took the other guy.”
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 14: Mike Singletary #50 of the Chicago Bears in action against the Philadelphia Eagles during an NFL football game on September 14, 1986, at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Singletary played for the Bears from 1981-92. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Singletary remembers speaking with the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, two of the three teams that showed interest in picking him. The Chiefs selected South Carolina tight end Willie Scott with the No. 14 pick, and the Chargers ended up taking Auburn running back James Brooks with the No. 24 overall pick. When the first round concluded, and his name still on the draft board, Singletary vividly recalls going outside of his house, and questioning if he should even play football.
“I was crying and I was frustrated,” Singletary said. “You know, when you’re young and immature, you have dreams, and I was supposed to be in the first round. And when that didn’t happen, I felt like, ‘forget it.’ But I came to my senses. I said, ‘You know what Lord, I don’t know if I’m going to play this game, but if you really want me to play, please let me get drafted by the Chicago Bears.’ Five seconds later, my girlfriend at-the-time, who is my wife now, came to the door and said, ‘Mike, the Chicago Bears just drafted you in the second round.’”
Half-length of Chicago Bears' linebacker, Mike Singletary (#50).
Why the Bears? Singletary knew about Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, and he knew that the team had a history of playing defense. So he felt like it was a perfect fit.
“They loved hitters,” Singletary said. “So for me, I wanted to go somewhere where it was nasty and cold, and people could really appreciate defense, and the physicality. That’s what I thought of when I was walking around outside. And, ‘Where do I want to go, where I can be able to express myself?’ And Chicago was that place.”
The Bears ended up taking Singletary with the No. 38 overall pick in the second round. He ended up leading the Bears to a Super Bowl title in 1985 and was known as “the heart of the defense” for arguably the greatest defensive unit in NFL history. His stellar play at linebacker in defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan’s “46” defense was noticed when he won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award that same year.
“When I think back to that time, I didn’t really know anything about the rest of the guys,” Singletary said of the 1981 NFL Draft. “For me, it was now we are going to the NFL. I was good in college, I had a great college career, I had done everything that everybody had asked me to do. So now, going to the next level, I was thinking like a No. 1 pick. I wanted them to ask me, ‘How did you go in the second round?’ I wanted to tear the door down when I got there, and I wanted to make a statement. I just went to work. I worked my tail off.”
Dan Canova is a Sports Reporter for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @DanCanova
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