When the Bears retired Mike Ditka's old No. 89 in May, they announced that his would be the team's final retired number. And no wonder: their 14 retired numbers is the most in the NFL. Among the great players whose jerseys will not be removed from rotation is Mike Singletary, the last man to wear No. 50 for the Bears.
Until this season, that is. Because when the team signed former Carolina linebacker James Anderson, they issued No. 50 for the first time since Singletary stepped away from the game in 1992.
A die-hard Bears fan's might object: "Who is that guy stealing Samurai Mike's number?" That's why RedEye talked to Anderson and see if he was worthy of the Singletary honor. Will he one day be recording a verse on the new Super Bowl Shuffle? Only time will tell.
When you got to Chicago, who were the first guys you talked to?
It's been a good transition. The guys here made me feel comfortable, welcoming into the group. The first guys I talked to were Lance [Briggs], Major [Wright] and Pep [Julius Peppers]. The guys who are in my area and close to my locker. And to be honest, every guy you come across has made you feel a part of the team. That's the vibe you get here.
Did they call you first, or did you call them?
Pep and those guys hit me up with a text message saying, "Welcome to the team," and then when I got here on the first day of workouts, all the guys came and said what's up.
So who have been your best friends on the team so far?
You know what? If they got a Chicago Bears jersey on — but mostly, hanging out with some of the backers: Lance, D.J. [Williams]. A lot of guys getting along.
What have you done in Chicago so far?
I did some sightseeing. My parents came up, so we visited some of the sights and got some good food.
What'd you see?
I went to the museums, and to the aquarium. I was a tourist for a couple of days. [Smiles.]
And what good food?
We went to Frisco's and a couple other places. Chicago's known for its good food, so I'm definitely trying to find all the spots.
Did you get some pizza?
Absolutely. From Gino's [East]. You gotta get the best, man, and that's what they say.
There was a lot of talk about you getting number 50. Have you talked to Singletary yet?
Not yet. We've reached out to him, but like I said, the team said go ahead with it, and I'm honored to wear it. Those are huge shoes to fill, and a big tradition, so I'm excited.
Did you ever watch him play when you were young?
No I didn't, but I'm going to go back and look at some old cutups and see what I'm stepping into.
Well thank you very much. Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you too.
Special contributor Jack M Silverstein covers the Bears for RedEye. Say hey @readjack.
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