A Bears player will wear No. 50 this season for the first time since Mike Singletary retired in 1992, and that's just fine with the Hall of Fame middle linebacker.
The number was never retired, but the Bears have not issued it since Singletary concluded his illustrious 12-year career with the team. They brought it back this season because the NFL requires all linebackers to wear numbers in the 50s or 90s and the Bears already have two of those retired: No. 51 for Dick Butkus and No. 56 for Bill Hewitt.
|Hall of Famer Mike Singletary was voted to a Bears-record 10 Pro Bowls.|
"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. 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.'"
The number will be worn this season by linebacker James Anderson, a veteran free-agent acquisition who donned No. 50 the past seven years with the Carolina Panthers.
"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. "I'm going to do everything I can to honor the tradition by going out every day and every game and giving it all I've got."
Anderson did not know that No. 50 had not been issued by the Bears since Singletary retired.
"I had no idea," he said. "They asked me whether I would like it if it was available and I said sure. I have a lot of history myself with that number."
Anderson appeared in 94 games with 53 starts for the Panthers, recording 432 tackles, eight sacks, seven fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles, three interceptions and 20 pass breakups. He started 44 games at strongside linebacker, eight at weakside and one in the middle.
Anderson was a regular starter each of the past three seasons. His 94 games played are the most by a linebacker in Panthers history. On Sept. 20, 2012, he set a Carolina single-game record with 20 tackles in a loss to the Giants.