Singletary's trademark intensity has new venue

OWINGS MILLS - The tome of football won't be written without the inclusion of Mike Singletary along with mention of his piercing stare and concussive tackles. Already the subject of a lengthy segment for a sports figure in the Encyclopedia Britannica, the next chapter of the Hall of Fame middle linebacker's career is unfolding in Baltimore.

Now, the newly-minted Ravens linebackers coach and former Chicago Bears defensive captain has departed the arena of public speaking after a decade and changed the venue for his intensity.

Instead of his wide-eyed zeal being devoted to attacking opposing running backs helmet-first, Singletary has shifted his meticulous work ethic toward plotting detailed practice plans.

"The transition has been great," Singletary said in an interview at the Ravens' training complex. "I can be just as intense as a coach as I was as a player. "When I played, that energy was called upon by being aware. Now, as a coach that energy goes into planning and really looking at how I can help them see as I see."

As Singletary, 44, said in a quiet yet firm voice when he was hired over the winter, this is not an experiment. He arrives around 6:30 a.m. for work and plans on starting his day even earlier once the season begins.

Inside his office and on the practice fields, Singletary remains a cerebral presence. He's always mulling over methods of helping his players reach their potential and was recently earmarked by The Sporting News as demonstrating qualities of a future head coach.

He has already made an impression on All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis.

"I love the guy, his intensity is incredible," Lewis said. "He loves to listen, which is a great thing for a coach. Together, we're going to be very special."

Before joining the Ravens staff, Singletary had already compiled quite a resume. He collected 1,488 tackles, 51 pass deflections, 19 sacks, 13 fumble recoveries and seven interceptions during his NFL career.

Despite breaking 18 helmets with his trademark aggressive tackling style as an All-American at Baylor, he went in the second round because of concerns over his modest size for a pro linebacker: 6-foot, 230 pounds.

Twice, though, Singletary was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, spearheading a 1985 defense that set a record for a 16-game season by allowing only 187 points as the Bears became Super Bowl champions.

"That was my guy," Ravens linebacker Ed Hartwell said. "I remember that Super Bowl shuffle. He really inspired me because he was so intense. "I listen to everything he says because he's one of the greatest linebackers to ever play in the NFL. He's going to be a great coach. He's demanding, but he treats us all like men. You've got to respect that guy."

The Ravens broke the Bears' 1985 mark in 2000 with their own Super Bowl edition. Singletary also was selected to 10 consecutive Pro Bowls during his dozen seasons. Impressive credentials, but Singletary had never coached before.

He pursued the head coaching position at his alma mater, but the job went to Guy Morriss. He looked at positions with the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers before choosing Baltimore.

"It's been seamless in regards to you can just see the passion he has for the game," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He's enjoying what he's doing and the guys are responding to him, so he's doing a great job."

Singletary also held discussions with the Bears, but Chicago head coach Dick Jauron didn't want to shift linebackers coach Gary Moeller to the defensive line. Plus, Singletary didn't want to obtain his first coaching position that way.

"I always wanted to coach and when I played in the NFL, I prepared myself to coach by learning everything I possibly could from every angle of the defense," Singletary said. "What kept me from coaching were priorities and that was my family. I've had several chances over the years, but decided to bypass them. Thankfully, I did and it's helped me keep things in perspective."

When Singletary was playing for Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, he made it a habit to pace outside the coaches' offices until after midnight to obtain an early copy of the weekly game plan.

Now, he spends his time helping to craft those game plans.

"He has incredible credibility with us," linebacker Bart Scott said. "I remember those big eyes, seeing everything, how he demanded respect and controlled the whole show. You get a sense in the drills that he still has passion and loves the game so much."

Initially, Singletary didn't like Ryan, the father of Ravens defensive line coach Rex Ryan, as Ryan criticized him. He called him too short, too fat and too slow.

He wouldn't even call the rookie by name, referring to him only as No. 50.

Eventually, they became close and Singletary still consults Ryan along with his college head coach Grant Teaff.

"Buddy told me to remain who you are and everything will be great," Singletary said.

Who Singletary is, at heart, is a family man. He lives in Lutherville with his wife, Kim, and their seven children: Kristen, Matt, Jill, Jackie, Brooke, Becky and John.

"My wife is my best friend and we have a great relationship," Singletary said. "When I get home, that's my first job. This is my second job and I love it. "The transition has been great. It gives me a chance to take all the energy and all the love I have for the game and share that with the players."

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