Singletary's `heart, mind' with Ravens in new job

Hall of Famer guarantees total dedication as coach

February 06, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Ravens linebackers coach Mike Singletary settled into his new position yesterday and made one thing perfectly clear.

His decision to coach 10 years after the end of his 12-year Hall of Fame career as a middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears is no experiment.

"An experiment is when you try something. I'm not trying to coach; I'm going to coach," Singletary said. "An experiment is when you come to Baltimore and leave your home there just in case things don't work the way you think. We sold our home in four days. Anything I do, I'm going to do with all my heart, mind and soul."

Ravens coach Brian Billick is banking on as much. Billick shunned normal NFL protocol in hiring a person in Singletary with no previous coaching experience to direct what is the heart and soul of most defenses.

Singletary has spent the past 10 years raising his children with his wife, Kim, and leading motivational seminars, addressing audiences ranging from corporate executives to the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl team. The Ravens expect that experience will be as valuable as toiling a couple of years in the lowest coaching ranks.

Singletary replaces Mike Smith, now the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Former players have the potential to make great coaches because of their collective experience," Billick said. "The operative question is always, `Do they want to commit to the profession?'

"What Mike has done over the last 10 years is teaching. And that is what coaching is. As a player, you bring a perspective and understanding of the game. The other element of coaching is being able to grasp the entire scope of offense, defense, whatever it is you are working with, and communicating it.

"Not all good players make good teachers. It's one thing if you know, but can you teach it and get your players to know it? Mike has those credentials, and that is what led me to believe he can more readily make that transition."

Singletary is in his first week with the Ravens and made no apologies about not having to start as a position assistant, like most coaches. Asked at his opening news conference whether he was surprised at being named linebackers coach after having never coached at any level, he said: "No, but I'm very grateful."

"I'm very humbled by it because there are a lot of good coaches out there that are looking for an opportunity to coach. For me, the fact that I played ... I drove my coaches crazy in terms of watching film and getting into game plans and doing the things it took for me to play the game the way I wanted to play it. The last five, six years of my career, some of the things we are doing now coaching, that's what I did when I played."

Singletary began thinking about coaching when the job at his alma mater, Baylor, opened up a couple of months ago. He cemented the decision three weeks ago, deciding between the Detroit Lions and Ravens.

"The reason I never coached was because I had seven kids [ranging from 4 to 16]," Singletary said. "I decided when I was done with football, the best thing for me to do at that time was to step away from the game, enjoy it for what it was, gain my identity and look at some of the other gifts I feel God has gifted me with."

Now, Singletary will work with a linebacker corps that should get back a healthy Ray Lewis, whose season ended early last year with a shoulder injury. Ed Hartwell returns after a solid year as a first-time starter, along with Pro Bowler Peter Boulware.

"I think he's going to add an insight to our coaching on the defensive side that we don't really have right now," defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "He played the game a long time at a high level and that insight that goes with that will be invaluable to our players and to our coaching staff, as well."

NOTES: The Ravens promoted Dennis Thurman to assistant secondary coach and Mike Pettine to quality control coach. Thurman was a defensive backs assistant last season, his first with the Ravens. Pettine was a coaching and video assistant last season.

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