The Bears haven’t retired Mike Singletary’s No. 50, but for the first 20 seasons after his 1992 retirement, the number wasn’t worn by anyone else.
Now, the Bears are giving No. 50 to another linebacker.
James Anderson, who signed with Chicago in the offseason, will wear No. 50, the club’s website reported Tuesday. Anderson wore No. 50 with the Panthers, his former club.
Singletary, a Hall of Famer who starred at middle linebacker for the Bears for more than a decade, is said to have no problem with his number being worn by someone else, the team said.
“He said he wasn’t aware that it hadn’t been assigned, that he’s got no problem with it, and he’s perfectly fine with it,” Bears chairman George McCaskey told the club’s website. “In fact, he would prefer that it be assigned to somebody. He said, ‘I’d rather somebody wear it than see it hanging it up in a window somewhere.”
Anderson told ChicagoBears.com that he knows the importance of the No. 50 jersey in club lore.
“There’s a lot of history behind this number with the Bears, and I’m honored and blessed that they would even consider letting me wear it,” Anderson said.
The 29-year-old Anderson is entering his eighth NFL season, and he has two seasons of 130 tackles or more to his credit.
According to the Bears’ website, this is a matter of the Bears needing the number, as league rules limit linebackers to wearing jersey numbers in the 50s and 90s. The Bears have retired Nos. 51 (Dick Butkus) and 56 (Bill Hewitt).
At present, the Bears’ only unassigned number in the 50s is … drum roll … No. 54.
With drafted rookies and undrafted free agents still to be added to the Bears’ roster, it will be interesting to see what becomes of what was Brian Urlacher’s number.