Mike Singletary: A college football, NFL and Baylor legend
Singletary. For football fans, only a last name is needed to conjure images of one of the greatest football players of all time patrolling the defense for the Bears — both at Baylor and in Chicago — setting records and winning titles in a legendary Hall of Fame career.
Mike Singletary, BBA ’83, is today best remembered as one of the top linebackers in pro football history, earning the highest honor in the game: enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. But before that, he established a reputation for greatness nearly four decades ago as a Baylor Bear.
The cornerstone of Baylor’s defense, Singletary became Baylor’s first three-time All-American (unanimously so in 1980), was a three-time consensus All-Southwest Conference selection, helped lead Baylor to a 1980 Southwest Conference title, and was eventually named Southwest Conference Player of the Decade for the 1980s — not just for Baylor, but across the entire league.
Drafted in 1981 by the Chicago Bears, Singletary picked up where he left off at Baylor. In the NFL, his list of honors, awards and accomplishments includes 10 consecutive Pro-Bowl selections, eight All-Pro awards and two Defensive Player of the Year honors. In 1985, he led a Bears team considered by some to be the greatest NFL team of all-time to a Super Bowl title. And his accolades weren’t limited to his athletic prowess; known for his faith and charitable work, he was named the NFL’s Man of the Year in 1990.
Twenty years ago this week, Singletary was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. That honor was his fourth Hall of Fame selection; he’s also a member of the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame, Texas Sports Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame). At his NFL Hall of Fame induction, Singletary credited his days at Baylor, and his legendary coach, Grant Teaff, for shaping him into the type of athlete he would become.
“When I went to Baylor University,” he said, “Coach Teaff taught me about the importance of being a Christian athlete. Getting out there and playing within the rules but giving everything you got.”
After his retirement, Singletary has stayed close to the game as a coach, serving as an assistant for five different teams and as the San Francisco 49ers head coach from 2008-10. Today, he’s preparing to lead a team again as the head coach of the Memphis franchise in the upstart Alliance of American Football league.
Sic ’em, Mike Singletary!