It’s Super Bowl time, and you know what that means. Football, I guess. But more importantly: Food.
Right up there with Thanksgiving, the Super Bowl is one of those rare moments when Americans let themselves go and eat massive quantities of delicious, artery-clogging foods. Sure, they may come to regret it—but that’s for later.
That in mind, I cornered Chicago Bears great and former San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary, himself a Super Bowl champ. Making a special appearance at the NFL Experience—a new four-floor, 40,000-square-foot joint venture of the NFL and Cirque du Soleil that sits in New York City’s Times Square—Singletary sat down to chat about the Super Bowl’s unique marriage of food and football.
When you were playing, what was your pre-game meal like? “A lot of pasta, potatoes, proteins: Food that would give you a lot of energy. If the game was at night, I would eat a big breakfast, light lunch, and get ready to roll. If the game was at noon, a small breakfast and I’d be good to go. With everything, I’d have plenty of water.
Today, coaches are pretty strict about making sure their players drink enough liquids and eat enough carbs. But back when I was playing, it was just: ‘Make sure you’re ready. Go play the game.’”
Do you now host a big Super Bowl party? “Of course. Like most families, we have dishes like pizza, chili, chili dogs. We have a real blast on game day at our place in Dallas. All of my kids come over—all seven of them. They all pitch in—some of them bring chips, some bring sodas. It helps us get dialed in for the game.”
When you traveled the country as an NFL player, which city in your opinion had the best restaurants? “New Orleans, hands down. Literally anywhere you went in New Orleans had great food. Gumbo was always at the top of my list, along with any Cajun-seasoned fish or crab legs. I’ll tell you another amazing place for food: Atlanta. Sometimes the Bears would go to Atlanta to train, to get out of Chicago for a bit, get away from the cold and get ready for the playoffs. And Atlanta always had tremendous food.
At the time, [Bears defensive end] Richard Dent’s mother did some catering. She has since passed away, but she used to put on a meal for the team before big games that was second-to-none. Absolutely amazing.”
Since you lived in Chicago for so long, is it true that Chicago has the best pizza? “Chicago has the best of a lot of things when it comes to food. So many great restaurants, it’s hard to go wrong. And when it comes to pizza, if there is any better elsewhere in the country, I’d like to know. The pizza is definitely outstanding.”
You’ve been married a long time, so does your wife have a special dish that she makes for you? “It would have to be her spaghetti. She loves to make her special sauce, and puts together a side salad with some garlic bread. I don’t exactly know what she does to make it so good, but it is amazing. All my kids say the same thing.”
For folks hosting a big gathering on game day, what advice do you have for them? “First of all, it always starts with the game itself. So, I’m really happy for [quarterback] Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles: Their fans are totally crazy, and the way that team played this year, they deserve to be there. So hopefully this Super Bowl turns out to be a great one. Because when it is, somehow the food just tastes better.”