Mike Singletary is a man of football. Singletary is also a man of faith.
The Pro Football Hall-of-Fame linebacker and part of the Monsters of the Midway defense that helped lead the Chicago Bears to the 1985 Super Bowl championship will share both stories at the fifth annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) fundraiser breakfast.
This year’s event will take place at the Landers Center in Southaven on Thursday, Feb. 7. Serving lines will start at 6:30 a.m. with the program to begin at 7 a.m., ending at 8:30 a.m.
Singletary, who also starred at Baylor and is a College Football Hall-of-Famer, is the current head coach of the new Memphis Express in the Alliance of American Football, set to start its first season just days after his Southaven appearance.
North Central Mississippi FCA Director of Field Development Cecil Sowell of Hernando said this year’s breakfast will mark the first time an active coach as served as the featured speaker.
“When we found out he was going to be the head coach for the Express, it just made a lot of sense (for him as featured speaker) since he’s going to be here in the area,” Sowell said.
Singletary, known for his toughness on the field, and especially for his mean stare at opposing quarterbacks, was drafted by the Bears in the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft. He became known as the Bears’ Heart of the Defense in the 1985 championship year.
After retiring from playing football, Singletary took to coaching it, first as a linebackers coach with the Baltimore Ravens and then the San Francisco 49ers. It was there he became a head coach for the first time in 2006 and stayed there until just before the end of the 2010 season.
Before taking the job with the Express, Singletary was a high school coach for a Christian school, Trinity Christian Academy in Addison, Texas.
“Some of the photos we received from that school include one of him in the locker room on his knees leading a prayer for the team,” Sowell said. “FCA in many cases fills a void in these athletes’ lives. I’ve heard him speak before and he will address the need for a responsible parent and a responsible husband.”
Sowell said the Fellowship of Christian Athletes continues to work with young athletes and with coaches to spread the message of a Christian faith.
”The way we go about doing that is, since we do have access to public and private schools by federal law, is where we can find a willing coach in a high school or college, we will help them establish and maintain a prayer group, called a ’huddle,’ which is voluntary on the part of the student,” Sowell said. “We provide resources to the leader, including Bibles, videos, training aids and anything we can do to help them.”
The North Central FCA serves about 23 counties in the northern quadrant of Mississippi and is based in Southaven. The fundraiser breakfast is one of two main events to raise funds in support of FCA. The other is the annual State Qualifying Golf Scramble held in Olive Branch.
Another part of the breakfast program each year is the Coach Bob Patterson Award, named for the late football coach and athletic director known by many in the DeSoto County area who passed away in May 2017.
The scholarship award is presented this year to a young male and a young female athlete from a DeSoto County public or private school who displays exceptional leadership in competition, in their faith, classroom and community.
“Those are all traits that Coach Patterson had and that is why we named the award for him,” said Sowell. “He’s been gone from us for two years now.”
Another young student-athlete will provide a Christian testimony as part of the program.
Over the five years of its existence, the FCA fundraiser breakfast continues to attract more people each year and Sowell believes this year’s attendance will top the previous ones for turnout.
“We had no idea it would be as successful as it has become,” Sowell said. “The first year we had about 500. In year three with Brian Bosworth, we reached just over 900. Dan Reeves in year four brought about 980, and this year it’s going to exceed 1,000, it looks like.”
For more information on ticket and table prices and availability, contact Sowell at 901-409-1927 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.