At first listen, defensive end Richard Dent’s Hall of Fame induction speech didn’t include any mention whatsoever of 1985 Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan or head coach Mike Ditka.
As it turns out, I heard (or, more accurately, didn’t hear) correctly. Dent indeed snubbed Ryan and Ditka.
John Mullin of CSNChicago.com confirms the apparently intentional oversight, explaining that Ryan “was hard on” Dent and that Ditka and Dent “had a frequently contentious relationship.” Despite being a Hall of Famer himself, Ditka didn’t show up for this past weekend’s ceremonies. Mullin writes that Ditka also frequently referred to Dent as “Robert,” apparently in a successful effort to get under Dent’s skin. (At least Ditka used a different name of the male gender, unlike what a guy like Bill Parcells may have done.)
As Dent once told Mullin: “Ditka was the reason we won a Super Bowl, and the reason we didn’t win three.”
Still, if Ditka was the reason the Bears won a Super Bowl, then Dent wouldn’t have been Super Bowl MVP but for Ditka. And thus Dent may not have been a Hall of Famer.
So why not bury the hatchet once and for all? Ryan and Ditka are old-school coaches, and anyone who has played for old-school coaches typically realizes with the passage of time that, even though old-school coaches can be gigantic pains in the butt, they’re simply trying to get their players to be the best players they can be.