Memories are so often more snapshots than motion picture and so it is with Mike Singletary.
My first year covering the Chicago Bears was Singletarys last, 1992. Coincidentally it also was Mike Ditkas final year coaching the Bears, though the three were unrelated.
Mike had already made the decision that the 1992 season would be his last. Talking with him in Platteville, his last time there, he told me he got off the phone with his wife Kim one night and simply cried.
As tough physically, mentally and physically as any in the game before or since, and he was crying in his dorm room.
Later that season, one that went into death spiral with Jim Harbaughs audible in the Minnesota game and never really pulled out, the team lost six straight games, most by double-digits.
Then came the Pittsburgh game in mid-December. It was Mikes last game in Soldier Field and he was honored on the occasion. The most telling honor: a team that was demoralized and teetering annihilated (30-6) a Pittsburgh Steelers team on the way to 11-5 in Bill Cowhers first year.
If you needed to put the meaning of Mike in a context, that was one. The Bears then lost at Detroit and at Dallas the last two weekends by 13 points each time.
Sometimes it really was about more than football, however. In early 1998 Alonzo Spellman was having his serious problems with bipolar disorder. The man the authorities called in to help defuse a potentially lethal hostage situation: Singletary.
And it was to Mikes home in Barrington that I went later that fall after learning some very unpleasant information about what Alonzo had been going through. I was in a personal quandary: The information had nothing to do with football and my dilemma was what to do with what had been revealed to me.
I didnt know Mike well personally. But I wanted to share the situation with him, did he know if certain things were true and, ultimately ask his counsel.
The point ultimately wasnt what was true or not; Mike confided things in return.
We spoke for a couple of hours. But when the fork in my information road eventually came, Mikes counsel was simple:
What does your heart say? Trust your heart.
That the heart is Mike Singletary.