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1985 Bears Coverage: Singletary ends Bear holdout

Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

Singletary ends Bear holdout

Kevin Lamb

Originally published Aug. 22, 1985

The Bears didn’t renegotiate Mike Singletary’s entire contract, but they agreed to renegotiate the last third of it.

That was the compromise that ended Singletary’s 27-day holdout yesterday.

The Bears will eliminate the last two years on his six-year contract through 1989. They turned his six-year, $1.66 million contract into a four-year, $1.075 million contract that could lead to more than $2 million over six years.

Singletary will begin practicing today and said he planned to play at Dallas Monday night. “We’ll see,” coach Mike Ditka said, but he seemed unwilling to stand in Singletary’s way. “This gives us a real shot in the arm.”

President Michael McCaskey said the Bears’ concession “will cost me a lot of money down the road,” which was why he didn’t offer it until Tuesday. He reached the agreement yesterday in a two-hour meeting with Singletary and his wife, Kim.

“I thought the concession would really cause Mike to jump up and down with excitement,” McCaskey said, “and I got no reaction. I said, `Mike, I think that’s an enormous concession.’ He said, `Oh, it’s not bad.’

“It wasn’t until later that Kim told me that when Mike says `It’s not bad’ other people are turning cartwheels.”

The agreement added performance bonuses and “restructured” the contract, McCaskey said, which could mean anything from forgiving Singletary’s $200,000 loan to replacing cash with an annuity or appreciable asset.

Still unresolved is the $20,025 in fines against Singletary at $750 a day – more than 10 percent of his 1985 salary. “I’m sure we’re going to have to talk about that,” said Singletary, who hadn’t discussed it with McCaskey.

Ditka said he didn’t see anything a fine would “accomplish in the long run if the guy comes back and is part of the family again.” But McCaskey said, “We’re in agreement, the fine is appropriate and it
stands.”

Strong safety Todd Bell and linebacker Al Harris remain holdouts. Both are without contracts, but McCaskey said he didn’t expect them to resent his coming to terms more quickly with a player who violated a valid contract.

“I hope it brings Todd Bell closer to rejoining the team,” McCaskey said. “There may be more strength in three people holding out.”

McCaskey indicated Singletary was given special consideration for his special status as a two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker, signal caller and team leader.

“It’s a very lucky day,” Singletary said, eager to begin “all the work I have to do. This was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to go through. Dealing with Mr. McCaskey was a tough thing.”

“Tough but fair,” McCaskey interrupted. “That’s true,” Singletary said. “Tough but fair.”