Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mike Singletary: Man on a Mission
The Singletarys: Family With a Mission Statement

It might seem odd to post a story about Mike Singletary on the evening before the Super Bowl. Besides, after last year's half time show what's left to say?
Undoubtedly, the Saints are a compelling story, as they represent a city that knows all that the spiritual life entails--"aching pain & delicious hope." Their opponent, led by the goodness that is Peyton Manning is as "controversial as a turkey sandwich from the gas station". No evil enemy, no proverbial axe to grind. Perhaps this is why the only controversy I have heard around the championship game of the NFL (apart from the fact Jeremy Shockey's voice in no way matches his physique) pertains to an ad that holds a pro-life message that will run. Although it is about Tim Tebow, Singletary & he share a common history. Today, it is widely recognized that they are both men on a mission, with a mission. I have wanted to write about Singletary ever since Ted Robinson told me about a compelling story in the San Jose Mercury News. Upon completion of his career as a football player, Singletary did the dishes, a whole lot of housework and drafted a mission statement for this family. A mission statement for his family? Who does that?! Mike Singletary, that's who. Read on.

It is impossible to look at Forty Niner head coach, Mike Singletary and not recognize there is something different about him. You need not know anything about football or what makes an athlete a Hall of Fame linebacker to understand he is a man of purpose, he settles for nothing but the best. Truly, he is a man on a mission.

A firm presence both on and off the field, to say Singletary is “a man of good moral fiber” is a near insult. Let’s not mince words, he is a virtual moral “tower of power.” He addresses men as “Sir,” he wears a wooden cross, and speaks slowly, passionately and thoughtfully. And, he is one tough interview.

Brian Murphy co-host of the “Murph and Mac” radio show speaks on the air with Coach Singletary the morning after every Niner game. Singletary says what he means and means what he says. His remarks although candid, deliberate and important are often stoic, even terse. If you make an attempt to probe deeper, he will say “I don’t want to talk about that anymore;” stalemate. I can recall several times whereby upon completion of an interview, all Murph was able to say was simply—nothing. Rather, at long last he would—exhale. And I so did I, a humble listener, the bipartisan fan.
Perhaps this is why Murph and I were so drawn to the December 2009 interview by Santa Rosa Press Democrat sports writer Lowell Cohn. The 4000 word transcript (!) is deeply personal. How Cohn was able to engage Singletary in this way is beyond me ( and I’ll speak for both Murph and Mac on this one, for them too). Although I do not have the answer, I am glad he did, and that "The Cohn Zone" posted the interview in 4 parts.

Cohn wrote: Some have complained Singletary may be interesting but that doesn't make him a good coach. Fair enough. This interview does not address his coaching abilities. I simply am trying to reveal the fascinating personality of the man who coaches the 49ers. To me that's worthwhile in itself. I hope you feel that way too.

Most surprising to me is that Singletary and Tim Tebow share a similar story, one that will be revealed during Super Bowl XLIV in an ad that has garnered much controversy. Tebow’s mother, Pam got sick while on a mission trip to the Philippines. Already the mother of four, she ignored a recommendation by her doctor to abort the child.

Cohn's interview revealed that Singletary's mother faced a similar predicament.
Before I was born the doctors really told my mom she should strongly consider having an abortion because Mom was a little older. I think she was close to 40 and had had several miscarriages and they just felt I would have a really tough time being a normal child and having a normal birth. So that was not an option for my mom or my dad and they just prayed and trusted God. It worked out that when I was born I did have some issues, bronchitis and had trouble breathing, pneumonia, in and out of the hospital for maybe the first six, seven years of my life. I remember sleeping in a tent, bubble kind of thing as a kid.

It’s as if the circumstances that surrounded their decisions not to abort have colored Tebow and Singletary’s worlds. Tebow continues to go on mission trips to the Philippines where he tends to the sick.
And the truth of the matter is all these years later, Mike Singletary is not normal. He is the only player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame to have his wife introduce him at the induction ceremony. Furthermore, he is the only father I know who has drafted a mission statement for his family that hangs in the home.

“The Home of Champions” chronicles how the Singletarys are a model of support and how “one night at the dinner table, Mike came up with the idea of creating a family mission statement. The statement still hands in their kitchen. It reads.

This is the home of champions. As Singletarys we will always strive to do our very best in all we do. We will strive to be honest and respect each other’s feelings, property and time. We will always pray for one another, fight for one another and encourage one another. For our trust be not in our home, nor our money or status or knowledge, but in each other, and above all, in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

”That was one of those moments when it hit me that, ‘Wow, this is so different from other people’s families," Kristen Singletary said.

Forty-Niner faithful know of this man’s mission. His m.o. “We want winners” has become the unofficial anthem of a team who longs for another Super Bowl title. But, you can’t look at this man on the field and believe it ends there. Without a doubt, Mike Singletary is different; he is not normal. Yet when Mike Singletary speaks to his players, the fans, and his family, you can’t help but believe he "wants winners" because he is one. Seeing IS believing.

*I would like to thank my student Kelli for passing along the article from the SF Chronicle about Tebow's Pro-Life message.
**I would also like to thank Ted Robinson, ND Grad and now voice of the Niners for sharing the San Jose Mercury News article about the Singletary Family with me

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