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'Samurai Mike' not the answer for Bears
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist

San Francisco 49ers' head coach Mike Singletary


Associated Press

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Published: 11/10/2009 6:21 PM

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Management and ownership types at Halas Hall should be grateful the Bears play Thursday night.

Not because getting back in a game quickly is preferable after Arizona crushed them Sunday. Heck, the Bears clearly need all the practice time they can get.

The benefit of playing sooner than later is the clamor surrounding Mike Singletary will pass sooner than later.

Just about the time people realize that the Bears play at San Francisco, the game will be over. If fans are lucky they won't even be able to find it on the NFL Network.

Anyway, there will be less time for the McCaskeys and Jerry Angelo to hear how much better off the Bears would be with Singletary as head coach than with Lovie Smith.

That might or might not be true -- Singletary has lost four straight games in his first full season as 49ers coach -- but most Bear fans prefer his fire to Smith's ice.

Of course if Singletary beats Smith the Bears will have to hear about it all weekend. However, in sports deferred grief always is better than immediate grief.

Seriously, there's a reason so many Hall of Fame athletes have to go work elsewhere after their playing careers.

Two rules apply to being a boss: One is never hire someone who wants your job; two is never hire someone who would be difficult to fire.

Singletary would fit that second category here. So for that matter would Ryne Sandberg.

Tom Ricketts and Jim Hendry aren't saying what they really think of Sandberg as a future Cub manager, but he seems on a course back toward Wrigley Field.

Nobody can be certain how good a major-league manager Sandberg would be. But if he stunk, well, how difficult would it be to dispose of someone as popular around Wrigley Field as he is?

My goodness, the guy's retired number hangs from a foul pole in Wrigley Field.

Usually the fandom splits in that situation - realists blame the manager and sentimentalists blame everybody else. Even 50 percent of the constituency can make it tough to fire their favorite player.

No wonder Jerry Reinsdorf never hired Michael Jordan and His Airness had to go elsewhere for his second act.

Larry Bird and Kevin McHale went to other NBA teams instead of the Celtics. Ted Williams managed in Washington instead of Boston.

Blackhawks management needed considerable courage last year to fire head coach Denis Savard and had to endure mixed reviews.

My goodness, 17 years later many Bear fans still resent that Mike Ditka was fired here and some still haven't forgiven Mike McCaskey.

Just think of how messy it could be when the White Sox have to divorce Ozzie Guillen, and he isn't even in baseball's Hall of Fame as a player.

Some great ones are exceptions who successfully continued on where they played. Perhaps Jerry West with the Lakers is the best example.

Still, the Bears shouldn't be blamed for not wanting to risk it when Singletary revealed he was going into coaching.

Most owners and general managers aren't eager to fire any coach or manager, much less a popular local figure.

Trust me, there's somebody out there better than both Singletary and Smith but without the emotional complications.