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4:55 P.M., WEDNESDAY, NOV. 25, 2009
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INSIDE THE HEAD, HEART OF A BAYLOR LEGEND
(Sneak peek of article written by Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle)
The myth begins with tales of Mike Singletary cracking 16 of his college football helmets. It grows every time the 49ers head coach appears on TV, his eyes radiating fierceness, his posture rigid. It seems to be all you need to know about this Texas-bred, Hall of Fame linebacker: The man has a hard head.
So what, then, are these stories about the tears? On a recent afternoon at the 49ers headquarters, the 51-year-old coach remembered being a kid in Houston, crying as he stood by the road outside his broken family's home, trying to envision a better future. Watching the cars go by, he told himself, "One day, I'm going to be somebody."
He remembered returning to football in 2003, ending an 11-year hiatus that he took to help rear his seven children. On his first day as a Baltimore Ravens assistant, he says, he smelled the grass and the sweat, and his eyes welled up behind his sunglasses.
"He cries a lot," says Kim Singletary, his wife of 25 years. "I know it shatters the perceptions."
The myth isn't false; it's just incomplete. It sits alongside a sentimental dreamer, whose wife has told him not to bury his face in a book when they have company. He's a throwback who, when inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998, busted tradition as if it were one of his Baylor helmets. Instead of choosing a former coach or teammate as his presenter, he tapped Kim, the only wife ever to deliver an introductory speech at the ceremonies.
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