Singletary, Frazier leaning on each other

Former teammates on the 1985 Chicago Bears championship team, Leslie Frazier and Mike Singletary are helping each other as coaching comrades. Frazier is relying on Singletary's head coaching experience to help point him in the right direction.

In the 1980s, Mike Singletary was always in the middle of the action as the intense, fiery leader of the Chicago Bears' stifling defense.

However, two decades later, Singletary quickly learned that leading an NFL team from the sideline can leave you feeling isolated. That's why, after going 18-22 in two-plus seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, he appreciates his new job as Minnesota Vikings linebackers coach and special assistant to first-year head coach Leslie Frazier.

Having just fallen from the ranks of first-time coaches, Singletary hopes Frazier, his longtime friend and former Bears teammate, can benefit from his experience.

"It's just a matter of when you have someone like that, you don't feel like you're alone," Singletary said. "You don't feel like you're by yourself. Being a head coach sometimes you can feel that way. You don't have that person there to say, ‘Hey, what's up?' Or, ‘What do you think? What do you see? What am I doing?' So, it makes a world of difference."

Having a friend nearby might be just what both men need right now. Frazier had the interim tag removed from his title after leading Minnesota to a 3-3 record to finish last season, and Singletary was fired in December, one game before the end of the 2010 season. Singletary, 52, didn't want to take any time off, so he joined Frazier's staff in January. If Singletary had to take a step down the coaching ladder, he wanted to do it with a friend who appreciated his well-known brand of candor.

"I told him, ‘I don't think you know how good it makes me feel to know that there is someone I can talk to who has no hidden agenda,'" Frazier said. "I can trust what he says. I know what he is going to share with me is for the best for our football team and our organization. Every place can't say that."

Meanwhile, Singletary has a comfortable place to continue doing what he loves. In the process, he might have a chance to re-establish his onetime reputation as an up-and-coming head coaching prospect.

"I love the game," Singletary said. "That's not going to go away. To come out here, everything else dissipates. It's about doing what you love to do. Teaching and coaching and going through things with the guys, dealing with the mental stuff that they have to deal with. To me, that's what it's all about."

During the preseason, Singletary has displayed the same intensity that helped him with the Bears and sometimes led to negative headlines with the 49ers. The sight of Singletary in his Bears helmet with piercing, determined eyes staring across the line of scrimmage is a lasting image on NFL Films, and that look is still present as he coaxes Minnesota's linebackers through drills. Bent slightly at the waist, barking out instructions, Singletary can be heard anywhere on the Vikings' practice field.

"Oh yeah, he's still as intense as ever," Frazier said. "That has not waned, which is good for our players and good for our staff."

When the Vikings work on special teams, Singletary can often be seen running the width of the side field, alone. The intensity in drills, the running, it's all about setting an example for his players.

"I try to emulate to my players in what I want them to do," Singletary said.

It hasn't always been easy.

He famously kicked 49ers tight end Vernon Davis off the field during his first game as San Francisco's interim coach and followed with a pointed press conference in which he said, "I want winners."

Singletary took over a 2-9 team midway through the 2008 season and went 5-4 the rest of the way. San Francisco was 8-8 in 2009 and entered 2010 with playoff hopes. But the 49ers lost their first five games and Singletary was let go after a 5-10 record officially eliminated them from postseason consideration in the NFL's worst division.

Singletary had never been a coordinator and ascended to the top spot after being the assistant head coach and linebackers coach for San Francisco.

"What happened in San Francisco, there's several things around that experience that I'm so thankful that I had a chance to go through and deal with," Singletary said. "That's a lot to deal with early on. I'm very thankful to have that under my belt."

Frazier knows what his friend has been through, so he asks for insight and will take any advice Singletary wants to pass along.

"There's some things that he'll point out where he made some mistakes that he wished he could have done a little bit different," Frazier said. "I benefit from that and hopefully won't do it that same way. There are some other things that he can foresee that I'm about to step into and he'll say, ‘Hey, think about this.' Or, ‘Think about that.' It's great for me."

Frazier and his players believe Singletary has the qualifications to get another shot at a top job in the future.

"I don't know why an owner wouldn't give him that opportunity," Frazier said. "If you can teach and you can communicate and relate to people, you've got a chance to be successful, I think, in this game. He has tremendous leadership qualities, so, yeah, I could easily see him being a head coach again."

Added Minnesota linebacker E.J. Henderson: "He's definitely a leader of men. Everybody can tell that. I think he'll get a shot."

Singletary, though, is focusing on his new job, not his next one.

"Well, you know what, I'm working my tail off every day and we'll see what happens," he said. "But the most important thing right now is to get these linebackers here to be the best that they can be. If I can do that, then everything else will take care of itself."


For more stories from FS North, visit FoxSportsNorth.com.



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So, it makes a world of difference.\" Having a friend nearby might be just what both men need right now. Frazier had the interim tag removed from his title after leading Minnesota to a 3-3 record to finish last season, and Singletary was fired in December, one game before the end of the 2010 season. Singletary, 52, didn't want to take any time off, so he joined Frazier's staff in January. If Singletary had to take a step down the coaching ladder, he wanted to do it with a friend who appreciated his well-known brand of candor. \"I told him, ‘I don't think you know how good it makes me feel to know that there is someone I can talk to who has no hidden agenda,'\" Frazier said. \"I can trust what he says. I know what he is going to share with me is for the best for our football team and our organization. Every place can't say that.\" Meanwhile, Singletary has a comfortable place to continue doing what he loves. 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