Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

Who doesn’t know Mike Singletary?  The middle linebacker of the Super Bowl-winning Bears (the Bears’ 1980s version of Dick Butkus), the intense eyes, the anchor of one of the greatest defenses of all-time, Singletary became a Hall of Fame player based on talent and desire and a passion for the game he loves.  Putting in his dues as an assistant, Singletary was promoted to head coach of the San Francisco 49ers after Mike Nolan’s firing a few weeks ago.

Wearing his heart on his sleeve, Singletary had a lot of people nodding their heads in agreement when, during his first game as head coach (against the lowly Seattle Seahawks), he sent tight end Vernon Davis to the locker room early after Davis got a stupid personal foul penalty after a play and then didn’t seem to care what Singletary had to say to him when he came off the field.  Singletary’s post-game rant (“I’d rather play with ten guys,” etc.) became an instant You Tube classic.


But, unbeknownst to virtually everyone at the time, Mike Singletary, in his first half-time speech to his team during his first game as an NFL head coach, pulled down his pants and turned around to have his butt face his team.  According to published reports, he then kept his pants around his ankles for three to four minutes as he spoke to his team about the game. 


Not surprisingly, it did no good as the 49ers were soundly beaten by the lowly Seahawks, 34-13. 


If you’re of a certain age (I’ll say 45 or older), you have an understanding of how crazy coaches can do such a thing.  Verbal abuse was commonplace among many coaches if you grew up in the 1970s or before.  In fact, coaches would do anything, including (sometimes) grab or even hit players (at levels going down to high school) to “get their point across.”  Pulling down one’s pants isn’t so crazy in the overall scheme of things if you understand where it’s coming from.


But that was then.  This is now.  That mentality of anything goes if you’re the coach has been on the outs for a decade or more.  The grabbing or hitting or choking of players has virtually disappeared and, in many areas (like high school), is grounds for immediate dismissal.  Which, of course, is how it should be.  But, in the ‘70s and before, it wouldn’t be shocking for a coach to pull down his pants and rant and rave for a few minutes. 


Coaches should have been aware when Fran Fraschilla lost his Division I basketball coaching job a few years ago for, among other reasons, pulling down his pants in front of his team.  And you can certainly argue that it’s different in the pros than in college.


But, for better or worse, it’s a new brand of kid and even a new brand of pro player.  Most are coddled from a young age.  Many have a sense of entitlement.  Virtually all don’t like to be screamed at or humiliated (we didn’t either but most of us dealt with it and moved on) by an over-the-top coach. 


Which brings us to game two of the Mike Singletary era.  Playing a good Arizona team very tough, the 49ers were down 29-24 very late in the game but had a chance to score the winning touchdown.  On second and goal from the one and 20 seconds left, Frank Gore ran left and maybe was down by contact, maybe not, before getting into the end zone.  The refs stopped the clock with four seconds left so the play could be reviewed.  It was determined that Gore had actually lost over a yard on the play.  With no timeouts and no knowledge that the ball was even going to be spotted over two yards (instead of one) from the goal line, offensive coordinator Mike Martz (you remember him from the Kurt Warner “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams) calls his second consecutive running play, this one for Michael Robinson (who?) and the game ends when Robinson is stopped before the goal line.


In his second post-game press conference as a head coach in the NFL, Singletary does worse than his first one.  He kills his own offensive coordinator, Mike Martz, by saying it was his (Martz’s) idea and his (Martz’s) play call on the final play.  Even if true, Singletary lost a lot of respect from a lot of coaches by not taking responsibility (no matter who made the call).  It wouldn’t come out until a day or two later that neither Martz nor Singletary knew that the ball was spotted on the two-and-a-half yard line, not the one.  Otherwise, they would have called a different play.


During this second post-game press conference Singletary, who seems to speak with no filter for a very intelligent guy, blurted out that his team needs to “grow up.” in future weeks.


This came from a man who, in two post-game press conferences, went into a rambling and emotional rant after his first loss that was instant internet fodder and threw his offensive coordinator under the bus in his second post-game press conference.


Mike Singletary needs to lead by example.  He’s the first one on that team who needs to “grow up” in the next few weeks.  Then he can become what he has the potential to become — a good NFL coach.  We’ll see.


© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.


  1. Nice post. I like his take charge emotional attitude, and the 49’ers did fight hard against the Cards, but the head coach often needs to be a calming influence in tough situations. That is one area Mike S. might have a hard time with. But you got to the love the guy for his intensity and passion!

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