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Bears to retire Mike Ditka’s number in December

chi_a_ditka_600 Getty Images

For fans of Da Bears, there won’t be another Ditka.

And for the Bears, there won’t be another 89.

According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears will retire Mike Ditka’s number during a Dec. 9 Monday Night Football appearance against the Cowboys at Soldier Field.

Ditka coached the team to its only Super Bowl title 27 years ago, but was a tremendous player for them prior to that, playing for their 1963 NFL title team.

The 73-year-old ESPN analyst will be the 14th Bears player to have his number retired, the first since Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers. That’s the most retired numbers of any NFL team.

Ditka hasn’t always had the best relationship with Bears ownership, but his relationship with the fans of the team is undeniable, as is his place in history now.

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44 Responses to “Bears to retire Mike Ditka’s number in December”
  1. madenatewell says: May 24, 2013 7:07 AM

    I’ve always enjoyed Mike Ditka. Not a bears fan either…

  2. tenotnamedmiller says: May 24, 2013 7:20 AM

    That leaves Bears with four un-yet-retired numbers.

  3. jruc says: May 24, 2013 7:22 AM

    this should have BEEN happened smh

  4. joetoronto says: May 24, 2013 7:29 AM

    It’s about time, the man exemplifies the legendary toughness of the Bears.

  5. jayhawk6 says: May 24, 2013 7:31 AM

    Fourteen retired numbers is a boatload.
    It’s a bit mind numbing to ponder the reality that Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers were both drafted nearly 50 years ago and that Mike Ditka was already on the team.
    Must have been having a lot of fun because that went by awfully fast.

  6. phillycass says: May 24, 2013 7:32 AM

    da coach

  7. maddog111 says: May 24, 2013 7:35 AM

    Overdue.

  8. inyofaceagain says: May 24, 2013 7:38 AM

    Ditka was the man. Remember the SNL skits? DITKA!

  9. fdugrad says: May 24, 2013 7:54 AM

    ABOUT TIME!!

  10. thedoubleentandres says: May 24, 2013 7:58 AM

    I heard they are also set to retire his moustache

  11. filthymcnasty1 says: May 24, 2013 7:58 AM

    Da Bears are finally retiring da great coach Didka’s number. Dat makes me very happy for da Bear meatheads.

  12. thechronicjoker says: May 24, 2013 8:02 AM

    Should have been done years ago.

  13. stigman2012 says: May 24, 2013 8:06 AM

    The Bears ought to really do the right thing and retire that sweater vest Dikta is wearing in that picture.

  14. firestarter0728 says: May 24, 2013 8:06 AM

    Pretty soon the Bears will have to start assigning numbers in the 100’s.

  15. snowman36 says: May 24, 2013 8:12 AM

    Subsequently the New Orlean Saints wills retire the number 7: the number of picks Ditka gave up to get Ricky Williams

  16. footballhistorian says: May 24, 2013 8:16 AM

    It’s about time

  17. monstersofthemidway545051 says: May 24, 2013 8:17 AM

    Who would win in a fight, Ditka or God?

    Trick question, Ditka is God.

  18. britishteeth says: May 24, 2013 8:36 AM

    Meatheads Rejoice!

  19. nyninerfan says: May 24, 2013 8:38 AM

    How has this not been done already?

  20. tomthebombtracy says: May 24, 2013 8:38 AM

    We like Mike in Pittsburgh!

    Born here, played both football and hoops at Pitt, and is still the spiritual leader of the Pitt program.

    Mother’s Day, there he was greeting people at his Ditka’s Restaurant here in Pittsburgh.

    A quick story. When you see Ditka playing highlights often you see a catch and run against the Steelers at Forbes Field that was spectacular in his breaking tackles.

    It was November 24, 1963, two days after JFK was assasinated and I was a 13 year old at the game, which is still a black mark on the NFL for not cancelling that weekend.

    Ditka has said he was full of emotion, being home and upset about JFK and he was playing in some kind of higher gear.

  21. len462 says: May 24, 2013 8:44 AM

    Won’t all teams eventually end up with numbers 1-99 retired? What happens then?

  22. S.Nevada says: May 24, 2013 8:51 AM

    14 retired numbers? They’re going to have to start breaking out ‘.5s’ or go into triple digits soon.

  23. vanillagorilla9 says: May 24, 2013 8:52 AM

    Legend. Good move by the Bears, despite it taking so long.

  24. thraiderskin says: May 24, 2013 8:54 AM

    One word to describe Ditka (especially in Chicago)…. Iconic.

  25. conormacleod says: May 24, 2013 8:56 AM

    What took so long?

  26. marty2020 says: May 24, 2013 8:56 AM

    “Ditka hasn’t always had the best relationship with Bears ownership, but his relationship with the fans of the team is undeniable, as is his place in history now.”

    Darin,

    Getting his number retired does not affect Mike Ditka’s place in history.

  27. bearsfan4life says: May 24, 2013 9:01 AM

    I swear I read an article on here saying the league wouldn’t let the team retire any more numbers. The article specifically mentioned someone wearing the number 50 this year.

  28. tlmoon2112 says: May 24, 2013 9:15 AM

    Bout time, good call.

  29. daflabear says: May 24, 2013 9:26 AM

    Finally! The greatest tight end in Bears history and only Superbowl winning Coach! About time McCaskey’s!

  30. patriots420 says: May 24, 2013 9:27 AM

    One word… Icon

  31. philvil41 says: May 24, 2013 9:28 AM

    Love Iron Mike.Well deserved.

  32. elliottcovert says: May 24, 2013 9:31 AM

    It’s about darned time!

  33. eddiegabriel2013 says: May 24, 2013 9:33 AM

    seems stupid and or unfair

    ditka was a nice player, but he only played 6 seasons in chicago, before leaving for 2 other teams and his imfamous #98 in philadephia

    compare that to Doug Atkins who played 12 GREAT seasons in Chicago, and was force to leave as the bears left him on the expansion list

    other than the fact that mike ditka is on tv and was a coach, but on the field Doug Atkins number not retired and Ditka is is a joke

    one mans opinion

  34. kabasaman says: May 24, 2013 9:58 AM

    The best thing to happen to the Bears is that George Mckaskey took over the club from his brother Michael…. Michael was a tool and kind of a Jag. George stood up, fired Angelo when he finally realized he was the worst GM in football. Now he is making decisions that make the Bears organization one to be proud of again………

  35. whatjusthapped says: May 24, 2013 10:04 AM

    If he is so iconic as a number of people have suggested, why not just bring him back as a head coach again? Just don’t let him make any trades during the draft.

  36. comeonnowguys says: May 24, 2013 10:23 AM

    The only reason I’m not for it is because too often Ditka the coach gets lumped in with Ditka the player.

    Ditka the player: Worthy.
    Ditka the coach: Overrated.

    Honestly, it’s at the point where they need reset things. Build a Cowboys-style ring of honor, and use that Mount Rushmore concept as the basis to retire four numbers–and that’s it.

    Rosters are going to get bigger. 14 retired numbers are ridiculous.

  37. larryboodry says: May 24, 2013 10:33 AM

    I’m surprised this wasn’t done years ago.

  38. larryboodry says: May 24, 2013 10:41 AM

    @filthy:

    Archie Bunker always called his son-in-law Mike Stivic ‘Meathead,’ even though Mike was actually smarter than him…Just sayin’.

    Signed, a Bears Meathead

  39. gbpakrfan says: May 24, 2013 10:44 AM

    LONG overdue…congrats Mike Ditka!

  40. dwarftosser says: May 24, 2013 10:49 AM

    I can’t even think of the Bears without thinking of Ditka. About damn time Chicago…

  41. lagg1 says: May 24, 2013 10:50 AM

    I cannot understand why this was not completed earlier. Ditka is one of the greatest tight ends of all time. HE IS CHICAGO. You can place him with Mackey and Gonzalez as tight ends who changed the game.

  42. iowahbr says: May 24, 2013 11:45 AM

    Is Urlacher a Hall of Famer, Ditka’s number to be retired, very little about real Bears news these days. Perhaps for the best.

  43. mazblast says: May 24, 2013 5:38 PM

    “It was November 24, 1963, two days after JFK was assasinated and I was a 13 year old at the game, which is still a black mark on the NFL for not cancelling that weekend.” I was “almost 8″ at the time, and I remember that my father refused to turn the radio on for that game, feeling that even listening to it would be disrespectful.

    Pete Rozelle later said that the decision not to cancel that weekend’s games was the worst decision he ever made as Commissioner, and that he had personally apologized to Teddy, Jackie, and many of the other Kennedys.

    Getting back to the subject–Way past overdue and well deserved, more for his play and attitude than for his coaching. Ditka helped transform the TE position from glorified blocker to a dual threat.

  44. ngarren13 says: May 24, 2013 7:48 PM

    I wouldn’t retire his number. In fact I would publicly ask him how is it that with a domiant team you only won 1? How is it that you set the record for least amount of points scored and LOST your 1st playoff game? How about the embarrassments against the 49ers…including one on Monday night? Or the Wayne Fontes smking a cigar after the lowly Lions beat the Bears?

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