Mike Singletary's enshrinement speech transcript
JIM JOHNSON (Emcee):
Mike Singletary has called this person his best friend and greatest fan. She is now here to present him for induction into the Hall of Fame. The first wife ever to serve as presenter for her husband. Please give a warm welcome to Kim Singletary.
If I were to ask you to describe Mike Singletary, number 50 for the Chicago Bears, no doubt you would mention the arms extended with fingers pointing, hollering signals before the ball is snapped. Or feet in constant motion, anticipating the running back’s next move. But most likely you remember the eyes, wide with intensity in anticipation of the quarterback’s call, often before he even called the play. That’s about all I knew of Mike Singletary, the football player, too – that’s what I saw on TV. I didn’t have any inside locker room stories or shared moments in the huddle. I was an observer of that part of his life.
But today, I think it’s only fitting that we honor the character of this football player. For that truly belongs in a Hall of Fame (applause). The countless hours of film he watched is legendary. It was imperative to him to be able to anticipate any play before it happened. But few knew that he took it upon himself to learn the responsibility of each member of that defense on each play. And in his later years, he stayed after practice to develop his back-up linebacker and fine tune his skills. I asked Mike once if he didn’t get nervous about helping the player and putting himself right out of a job. And he assured me that it would only make himself and the team better.
But the quality that I most admire is his ability to listen. Whether it’s a meeting with a coach, a player in need, his Sunday telephone conversations with his mom, or even on a porch swing with my grandfather, he is never too busy to give you his undivided attention. When you walk through the halls of this building, you get a sense of the history of those who loved this game and helped form the foundation of what it is today. It’s only fitting that a young boy from Houston, Texas who dreamed of an opportunity to have the privilege to play this game that he loved be enshrined today with those who have dedicated themselves to being not only great football players but great human beings. Men like George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, and Roger Staubach all helped Mike form some of his intensity and work ethic.
This is an age when professional athletes sometimes run away from their responsibility as role models. Well this is one man who not only embraces that responsibility but finds greater joy in training men and women to be their own children’s role model. His induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is an incredible honor. But I know that Mike will consider himself a success only when each of our children, after they are grown, will look back on their relationship with Mike and name him to the Father’s Hall of Fame (applause).
I feel so proud to present to you my very best gift from god and Kristen, Matt, Jill, Jackie, Brooke, Becky and John’s dad. . .Mike Singletary (applause).
Well, you heard it from my best friend. My children out here, Kim just named all of them, saved me from missing some of them. I would like to say, before I even say another word, that I want to give praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for all that he has done for me and my family.
This story began a long way back – Houston, Texas. Sort of began when I was twelve years old because there were a lot of things happening at that particular time in my family. We were going through a lot, we were trying to go to the next level. And I am the last of ten kids and we you have ten kids, sometimes it’s a little bit of a struggle to make it work. That year when I was twelve years old Mom and Dad went through a divorce. When I was five years old my brother Dale passed away and my second brother would pass away when I was age twelve. That was a tough year, I had no confidence, had no self-esteem. Just a young ghetto boy in Houston, Texas trying to figure out who he was and where he was going to go from there. And I want to tell you today my mom, my mom sat me down one day when I was moping around and feeling sorry for myself, close to giving up. Began to listening to everybody else in the neighborhood who said ‘no one gets out of here. No one has ever made it out of here and you won’t either. Besides you don’t have the ability, you don’t have the skill, you don’t have anything’.
My mom sat me down that day and she let me know something that I always knew but man I needed to hear it. Mom sat me down and said, ‘son I want you to know something’. She said, ‘I want you to know that there is greatness in you, there’s something special about you. I prayed for you before you were born and every day since. It’s in there! You’ve got to find it for yourself. I’m going to do everything I can as a mother to get it there but you’ve got to find it’. She put her hands on my forearm and she asked me if I could become the man around the house. I said, “Mom I can do that.” That day I went to my room and I wrote down my goals. And at twelve years old it went something like this: find a way to get a scholarship to go to college, become an All-American in college, get my degree, go to the NFL and buy my mom a house and take care of her for the rest of my life (applause).
When I think back on that time, I think how important it is that we need to let people know, let our kids know, let our spouses know, how important they are to us. Don’t keep it a secret. Because that day, my life began. As I think about all of the people that made a difference in my life, my mom is the start of that. My mom is the start of that because she is the one that introduced me to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She is the one who said ‘Mike, with men all things are possible but with him (pause) with men things are impossible but with God all things are possible.’ She said, ‘son, I want you to understand that whatever you do, wherever you go, if you just take God with you, I know you’re going to be okay (applause).
I want to thank my dad today. It took me a long time to realize how much he gave me. Took me a long time to grow up and mature and realize that we make mistakes. And my dad, I am so thankful for him, I am so thankful for his work ethic. I am so thankful for the many people that he has helped. I am so thankful for his heart.
I am thankful for my sisters and brothers today. I am thankful for their selflessness. I thank them. I thank my wife. I thank my children. I am so thankful that we can come together and get on our knees together and lift our family before holy God. But, along this road, I want you to understand that I stand here today, I just want you to know that I know that it is not me. I want you to know that there were tremendous investment by so many people and that is the reason I am here. Let me introduce to you to my team. And to be on this team, you got to be able to give sacrifice, you’ve got to be able to have integrity, you’ve got to be able to have character, you’ve got to able to keep coming back no matter how tough, no matter hard it gets, keep coming back.
It goes something like this: these team players, these teammates that I have, start with my coaches. In high school I had a guy by the name of coach Brown at Evan E. Worthing. Coach Brown taught me the work ethic ‘son, nothing is free. You want it, you’ve got to give it. You have to give everything you’ve got son and then more.’ Coach Teaff when I went to Baylor University, 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. And there was Coach Nelson, my linebacker coach, who taught me the fundamentals of playing linebacker when I thought I knew it all. And then I got drafted by the Bears and there was Buddy Ryan who captured a nation with the 46 defense and the imagination (applause). Buddy Ryan taught me what it was about to give ownership (?). And then there was Coach Ditka. This man was enthusiastic about life (applause) – taught me about vision. And the guy you won’t know, his name is coach McGinnis, who was my linebacker coach. When I was at the peak of my career, he was there, he was my friend. He was there in the twilight of my career when I lost a step - when I wasn’t quite as fast I as I used to be, when I missed that tackle that I normally would have gotten. And Coach McGinnis was still my friend, that is rare. Coach Tobin taught me discipline – whatever the defense is you call it and you run it but don’t change it. I didn’t like it but it was right. And a guy by the name Tom Williams who taught me how to stand up and prepare for the game, prepare for the challenge of life. You all know about offensive and defensive players. Everybody wants to play offense, everybody wants to play defense but no one wants to play special teams.
Well let me introduce you to my special teams and they are called my role models. Sitting over here is a gentleman, right over there under that tent is a gentleman. As a young boy, I remember turning on the television and watching him play. I said ‘boy I like that, I like the way he hits, I like the way he brings it to the house.’ His name is Willie Lanier and I saw Willie Lanier (applause). I said I want to hit like that. Willie was one of my role models. Roger Staubach was another because he was always consistent. And there are others, a gentleman by the name of Jim Osborne who had so much wisdom as a player. Revie Sorey, a guy for the Chicago Bears who taught me the etiquette of the game. Alan Page who was here who had so much class and so much style. Walter Payton, his work ethic was unbelievable. And Gary Fencik who had a keen sense of business. I want to thank everybody that I ever played with – with the Chicago Bears, and in college and in high school. Because all of those guys made a difference. All of those guys contributed to me being here. And all of those guys are part of this team. I want to say a special thanks to Dan Hampton and Steve McMichael, Richard Dent, Refrigerator Perry, Michael Hartenstine and Tyrone Keys. I want to say thank you. I want to say thank you to Otis Wilson and Wilber Marshall and Jim Morrrissey and Ron Rivera.
Every time as you go forward in life sometimes you fall flat on your face and you need people around you that will pick you up, people that will support you. I want to introduce you to my roommates because I was difficult to room with. A guy by the name of Leslie Frazier, Todd Bell, Danny Rains, Al Harris, Shaun Gayle and Dave Duerson. Those were the guys who when I fell flat on my face they were there to say, ‘hey Mike, get up, you can do it.’ They were there to pick me up, they were there to encourage me and they were there to tell me the truth. And I need to hear that.
But, you know what, I never forget my first game. My first game I started in the NFL. I remember walking in the stadium and man I couldn’t even stand up straight because there was so much cheering. There were so many people just cheering and it was loud and it was rowdy – it was the fans. People today, say ‘these fans are crazy!’ Hey, man you are the greatest. I want you to know that it’s because of you that so many athletes are out there giving their all. And you stood there, sat there last night and watched those athletes walk across the stage, some of them hobbling, some of them a little bit crippled but man they’ve been in a war. And that is what this game is all about – it is a war everyday and you just have to make a decision whether or not you want to be a part of it or whether you want to win.
As I stand here, I want to say thank you to the Chicago Bears organization. I want to say thank you to Jim Finks and George Halas and the rest of the Bears’ family, the rest of the Bears’ organization, the McCaskeys.
As I close, I just want you to know this from the bottom of my heart. I know that people will ask me, ‘Michael, where will this rank, Hall of Fame, top of the world son, where does that rank?’ And I just want you to know that I am so extremely proud. I am so extremely proud to be sharing this honor with you gentleman here and those gentleman there (in tent adjacent to stage) and those gentleman here behind me. But the most important thing, the most important thing in my life is Jesus Christ. And I thank him for what he did to me. I thank him for what he did in my life. And I thank you for cheering me on. And I’m thankful for Mom and Dad, my sisters and brothers. I’m thankful for my lovely wife who has always stuck with me through thick and thin and was at every game with me – not in the locker room but out there outside, twenty below. I’m thankful for my children.
So with that, being in Canton has been outstanding. The people here have been just great. You people are just unbelievable. And it’s been great. I’ll never forget this day all of my life. Thank you and God bless you.
Pro Football Hall of Fame (Canton, OH)
August 1, 1998