Bears to retire Mike Ditka’s number in December

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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.

44 responses to “Bears to retire Mike Ditka’s number in December

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. “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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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

  7. 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………

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. @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

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

  12. 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.

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

  14. “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.

  15. 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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