New linebacker James Anderson will be the first Chicago Bear to wear No. 50 since Mike Singletary retired in 1992, and the Hall of Fame linebacker assured the team it's fine by him.
"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," Bears chairman George McCaskey told the team's website. "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.'"
Singletary's No. 50 is not retired, but the Bears have kept it out of circulation for the past 20 years. The NFL requires linebackers to wear numbers in the 50s or 90s. The Bears have 13 retired jerseys, the most in the NFL, including two in the 50s -- No. 51 for Dick Butkus and No. 56 for Bill Hewitt.
Anderson, who signed a one-year deal with the Bears on March 24, has worn No. 50 since 2006 with the Carolina Panthers. He didn't know the number had been out of circulation until now.
"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 told the team's website. "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."
Singletary spent 12 seasons with the Bears orchestrating the defense from his middle linebacker position. A 10-time Pro Bowler and two-time defensive player of the year, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
Singletary has spent the past two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings as linebackers coach and special assistant to the head coach.