One of the newest members of the Chicago Bears will start his time with the storied franchise with a big target on his back. Linebacker James Anderson will be the first player in 20 years to wear the number 50. The last player to do so was Hall of Famer Mike Singletary.
Anderson, who’s been in the league since 2006, wore the same number for the Carolina Panthers.
The Bears are to the NFL what the New York Yankees are to the MLB as far as retired numbers. Chicago has 13 officially retired numbers (the most in the league). The last two numbers that were retired were numbers 40 and 51, which were worn by Hall of Famers Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus respectively.
Singletary’s number was never officially retired, but hasn’t been distributed since his retirement in 1992. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year actually embraced the idea of seeing the number 50 back on the football field.
Bears chairman George McCaskey spoke to Singletary prior to making the decision and stated that Singletary would “rather somebody wear it than see it hanging it up in a window somewhere.”
Anderson was a solid linebacker for the Panthers during his tenure there, and registered over 100 tackles in two to his last three seasons in Carolina. The chances of Anderson starting at strongside linebacker are promising right now.
I know that a number on a jersey doesn’t make the player and shouldn’t have any effect whatsoever on a player’s ability, but in this case, donning the number 50 could bring some unwanted pressure to Anderson.
The Bears already cut ties with a future Hall of Famer during this offseason, and now they revive the number of a current Hall of Famer. I’m sure the only reason why this happened is because linebackers are allowed to only wear numbers in the 50s and the 90s in the league, and Chicago are short on options.
Personally, I think that Singletary’s number should be retired. However, I also believe that a couple of other numbers should be retired as well. If that does happen, then it will be just about impossible for the Bears to issue numbers to players within the rules of the NFL.
The league should just let players wear whatever number they want to wear, just like in college football. That way, teams won’t be so hesitant to retire numbers of some of the greatest to ever play the game.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google