As Bears fans, we all know about Mike Singletary.
We remember his eyes. We remember seeing number 50 running sideline to sideline. We remember him being the leader of arguably the greatest defense in NFL history.
But how much do we know about one of the greatest living Chicago Bears?
This Saturday, MGM+’s NFL ICONS series features Samauri Mike himself! I had an opportunity to preview it, and it’s a fantastic documentary (narrated by Rich Eisen). From childhood all the way through his coaching career, it covers Mike’s entire life on and off the field.
Singletary sat down with the producers and the director (Paul Camarata) for two hours to discuss his career. The episode features childhood photos from Singletary’s personal collection, countless interviews from teammates and coaches and highlights of Singletary you haven’t seen in years (and some I promise you’ve never seen)!
The episode is a little over 50 minutes in length, but according to Camarata, they combed through hundreds of hours of material for this documentary including “NFL Films game action and TV network broadcasts, 20-plus sit-down interviews from throughout his life.”
Why was Singletary chosen for the ICONS series? For Camarata, it was simple.
“Mike has a Hall of Fame resume coupled with a fascinating life off the field and his outlier strong communication skills,” he stated. “In our work with him over the decades, Singletary consistently demonstrates great energy, humor, and introspection when he speaks. For a series that aspires to have the subject tell his own story, we were excited to have a thinker and speaker like Mike reflect in a new way on his remarkable journey.”
The episodes starts out in his early childhood years building to his college career at Baylor and the stress of waiting to see who would select him at the NFL Draft. They spend a lot of time focusing on his complicated relationship with Buddy Ryan. It’s a relationship that was rocky at times, but grew into one of that featured a lot of respect and love. Camarata knew it was a key piece to the special.
“It was clear to us that Mike and Buddy had a profound influence on each other, and along the way made history. Their connection is exactly the type of through-line that makes a story like this compelling, but also relatable to anyone who’s ever had an important student-teacher relationship in their life.”
To be clear, this feature is not about the 1985 Bears. They only talk about this season for a few minutes. They really focus on Mike’s entire life and really spend a lot of time on his coaching career. It’s a far different approach than how many documentaries have covered the Bears in the 1980s.
Camarata feels that the 1985 season is kind of a been there, done that for NFL Films, as they’ve covered it so many times on so many different specials and documentaries. They wanted to focus on Singletary’s football life, not just on the field, but on the sidelines as a coach as well.
“For me, Mike is an embodiment of servant-leadership, and that comes through in how importantly he treated his relationships off the field,” Camarata explained. “He’s as much a son, brother, husband, teacher, father, grandfather, and coach as he was a player, so we wanted to give those aspects of his life’s work their due in this film.”
A constant voice throughout this documentary is Kim Singletary, Mike’s wife. She was with him at Baylor, and she’s still with him today. His family is an integral part of this life and this documentary shows “Dad” in action, and that’s no accident.
Camarata found their relationship interesting. “From all the critical moments they shared going back to Baylor University, to the way their road led them together to the steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, hearing Mike talk about his relationship with his wife Kim was revelatory and inspiring,” he said.
If you have any interest in Singletary’s career or football history in general, this is a great special to watch.
“Mike Singletary: NFL Icons” debuts Saturday at 9 p.m. Central on MGM+, a premium linear channel and streaming service. Available same day on the MGM+ app.