November, 15 2022
Mike Singletary earned the nickname “Samurai Mike” during his career with the Chicago Bears. The master of Buddy Ryan’s “46” defense in Chicago, Singletary was the face of a dominating unit that propelled Chicago to an 18-1 record culminating in a 46-10 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.
Before his time as a true “Monster of the Midway,” Singletary terrorized ball carriers in the Southwest Conference as a Baylor Bear. Starting strong with 97 tackles as a freshman, his tackle totals grew exponentially as a sophomore. In reviewing game film, Baylor head coach Grant Teaff was recording unbelievable tackle numbers. Singletary was credited with 30 tackles against Georgia, 31 against Ohio State, 33 against Arkansas and 35 against Houston. An incredulous Ron Meyer thought Baylor’s head coach was fudging the statistics to help promote Singletary but soon learned he was wrong. “I thought Grant Teaff was padding Singletary’s stats,” said the SMU head coach. He changed his mind after reviewing films. “He is for real,” Meyer said. Singletary finished the season with a school record 232 tackles.
Teaff announced a different kind of record Singletary had broken as the linebacker’s 1980 senior season began. The linebacker tackled so ferociously that he was breaking helmets at a staggering rate. “He has broken eight helmets in three years here at $79 a helmet,” Teaff said. “But I’ll get a night job to keep him in helmets if I have to.” Singletary stated he had been breaking helmets since high school: “I think I broke five or six in high school. Sooner or later, they’ll get me a helmet that won’t break.”
The other item Singletary broke in 1980 was the perception that Baylor could not compete in the SWC. Teammate Vann McElroy recounted that Singletary “won’t put up with anybody messing up” in their pursuit of a conference title. When Baylor clinched the championship and their first Cotton Bowl appearance in years, he was proud. “When I was being recruited, people said Baylor couldn’t win,” he said. “I’d like to see some of those people now.” Singletary left Baylor with 662 tackles and a reputation for no-nonsense tackling that followed him to the NFL.