Mike Ditka will be the 14th Chicago Bear to have his number retired. He will also be the last.
The Bears, who have retired the most numbers of any NFL team, have announced that they will no longer retire numbers after Ditka’s 89 is retired at a Soldier Field ceremony this season.
“If there is going to be a last one, there is no more appropriate one than 89,” Bears owner George McCaskey said in a statement.
That means great Bears like Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary, Richard Dent and Brian Urlacher won’t have their numbers retired, but Hampton told the Chicago Sun-Times that’s fine by him.
“It’s simple math,” Hampton said. “This is a franchise with so many great players. If everybody’s number got retired, it would diminish the honor in a way. I understand. The trap of it all is that if you played for the Bears, you’re one of many. If you played in Tampa, what is there, a handful of guys?”
It’s still possible, of course, that the Bears will change their minds and decide to honor some great player of the future. But for now, the plan in Chicago is to retire retiring numbers.