NFL

The Dramatic Fall of Hall of Famer Mike Singletary and His Coaching Career

Mike Singletary was one of the most feared linebackers in the history of the NFL. In his 12 seasons with the Chicago Bears, Singletary earned 10 Pro Bowls bids and seven All-Pro honors. After a decade away from the game, Singletary returned as a coach in 2003. He eventually made his way up to the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Since that job, Singletary’s career in football rapidly declined. What happened to Mike Singletary? 

Mike Singletary’s Hall of Fame playing career

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The Chicago Bears drafted the two-time All-American linebacker Mike Singletary out of Baylor University in the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft. Singletary was named the starting middle linebacker just six games into his rookie season.

From the 1983 season until the end of his career in 1992, Mike Singletary was one of the most dominant linebackers the game has ever seen. He earned Pro Bowls honors each of those seasons and All-Pro recognition in seven of those seasons.  

In 1985, Mike Singletary and the Bears defense, coached by defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, had one of the best defenses in the game’s history as evidenced by the team’s No. 1-ranked defense allowing a paltry 12.4 points per contest. That postseason, the defense allowed 10 total points in three playoff games, all of it coming in a dominating 46-10 whipping of the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. 

The Chicago defense remained near the top of the NFL for several years but the team never won another title. Singletary retired after the 1992 season, having played all 12 seasons with the Bears. 

Mike Singletary makes way up coaching ranks

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After more than a decade away from the game, Mike Singletary re-introduced himself to the NFL as the linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 2003. Singletary stayed in Baltimore for one season before leaving with Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who took the head coaching job with the San Francisco 49ers.

As the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in San Francisco, Singletary oversaw a 49ers defense that struggled. In his first two seasons, the defense ranked in the bottom two in points allowed. The offense struggled as well and in 2008, the 49ers fired Nolan midseason, naming Singletary as the interim head coach.

Under Mike Singletary’s leadership, the team finished with a 5-4 record that season. The 49ers offered him the head coaching position and he signed a four-year contract. The 49ers defense improved the next season, but the team still only managed to finish 8-8.

It only got worse the next season and the San Francisco front office had seen enough. Singletary was fired with one game remaining in the 2010 season. He finished his coaching career with an 18-22 record. 

Mike Singletary fails at coaching

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A year later, Mike Singletary joined the Minnesota Vikings staff as the linebackers coach. After several seasons in Minneapolis, he left and was out of the game for a couple of years before returning in 2016 to serve as an adviser for the LA Rams under head coach Jeff Fisher.

In March 2018, Singletary accepted a position as the head coach for Trinity Christian Academy-Addison, a private high school in Dallas. Just three months later, he also accepted the head coaching job with the Memphis Express of the Alliance of American Football. Singletary planned to coach the high school team in the fall and the AAF team in the spring.

In Singletary’s first season as a high school coach, the team finished with a 1-10 record. With the Express in the AAF, Singletary’s squad compiled a 2–6 record when the league canceled the season, eventually closing operations. He returned to coach Trinity in 2019, and success continued to elude him, as the team went winless for the season. 

After going 1-21 in two seasons, the Hall of Fame player and high school parted ways. For his head coaching career in all levels of football, Mike Singletary has a 22-49 record. It was undoubtedly a disappointing finish to Singletary’s career in football but it will never be able to take away from all the many achievements he accomplished as a player.  

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.