MERRILLVILLE — NFL Hall of Famer and Bears all-time great Mike Singletary was the keynote speaker at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes' "Night of Champions" held Wednesday at the Avalon Manor Banquet Center in Merrillville.
The 10-time Pro Bowler, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and 1985 Super Bowl Champion is known for being a devout Christian and said he was honored to share a few words at the event. Before he took the stage, Times sports reporter James Boyd had the chance to interview Singletary. The former leader of the "Monsters of the Midway" discussed his faith, career and the new-look Bears.
Q: What is it about the FCA's mission that falls in line with your beliefs?
A: I think the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is one of the coolest ministries around for young people. Being able to meet in a very nonthreatening environment and share the love of Christ and be able to kind of unfold organically in Christ, in a Christian atmosphere is a really cool way for people to meet.
Q: How has your faith in God helped you throughout your career and life?
A: It's been everything. Without the foundation of faith, I couldn't tell you where I would be. I was just pretty fired up and angry, wild and everything else like any other young man without a dad. But my faith just played a huge role in directing me and allowing me to understand that I can live life at the highest level.
Q: When you retired from playing, were you at peace? Or did it take some time to really move on to the next chapter?
A: I had peace from Day 1. I burned rubber out of the driveway. I was so excited to just be a dad and just be able to do what I wanted to do, be able to get up when I wanted to get up. Be able to not have a coach to answer to, a GM to talk to and negotiate with. So I was really excited about that.
Q: Many athletes don’t go into coaching after they’re done playing. What made you want to stay actively involved with the game?
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A: Coaching, and really football, for me is life and death. It's not just a game. It's something I take very seriously. It's done a whole lot more for me than I'll ever be able to pay back, so I owe a lot to the game.
Q: Since the Alliance of American Football dissolved and you were coaching in that league, what have you been up to recently?
A: I'm coaching (at) a high school right now, Trinity Christian High School in Dallas. I'm very excited about that and being able to continue to help mold young men. That's one of the goals.
Q: The 1985 Bears are viewed as one of the greatest teams and defenses of all time. How often do you reminisce about your playing days?
A: I don't really look back at it a whole lot. Every now and then I'll take down the picture of the '85 Bears and really look at what we really were. We were just a team of guys that really hated to lose. We weren't great athletes. We weren't super fast. We weren't superhuman. We were just guys that just did not want to lose. And any time you get a group of guys like that together, something special is going to happen.
Q: You had the chance to play with Walter Payton, who is arguably the greatest running back ever. How special was he on and off of the field?
A: On the field he was tremendous. I didn't like running backs as a linebacker. I took it personally. I don't like those guys. But I loved watching him run. He was an amazing guy to watch. It was like looking at a thoroughbred. And then as a person off the field, he was fun. He was always fun, always upbeat and just a great guy. If you want to have a great time, and you just want to laugh, Walter was the guy.
Q: Khalil Mack has helped the Bears become one of the best defenses in the NFL. How much potential do you think that group has moving forward?
A: We're going to find out this year. I think the first year everybody said, "We weren't ready for them." Well, you're ready now. Let's see what you got.