Bears’ Mt. Rushmore stirs up debate over the omission of Ditka

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Tuesday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN unveiled the Bears’ Mt. Rushmore.

And it sparked our most spirited debate to date.

The official PFT quartet of stone heads (i.e., mine) consists of George Halas, Walter Payton, Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers.

The voters, along with Erik Kuselias and Ross Tucker, believe that Hall of Fame tight end and ’85 Bears head coach Mike Ditka should have had one of the spots.

PFT Planet went with Payton (96 percent of the ballots), Butkus (82 percent), Halas (60 percent) and Ditka (13 percent).

I stand by my selection of Sayers over Ditka, for the reasons articulated (repeatedly) in the relevant segment from Tuesday’s show.

To summarize, Sayers had arguably the greatest rookie performance in NFL history, generated 22 touchdowns in only 14 games.  He scored six in one game, and accounted for 2,272 all-purpose yards.  Though his career was cut short after seven seasons, he remains one of the iconic names from the years preceding and following the merger of the NFL and AFL.

Sayers also was at the center of one of the great off-field tragedies in NFL history, supporting Brian Piccolo through his battle with cancer.  The story became a legendary sports film (Brian’s Song), helping cement Sayers as one of the Bears’ all-time greats.

And while Ditka resides among the best in franchise history, only four make it to Mt. Rushmore.  Ditka coached a pre-free agency team that should have won more than one Super Bowl.  Instead, the Bears lost three straight home playoff games after getting its lone title.  As Hall of Famer Richard Dent has said, Ditka is the reason they one won, and also the reason they didn’t win three.

It makes Ditka special, but it doesn’t warrant a slot on the team’s Mt. Rushmore.  Not with guys like Halas, Payton, Butkus, and Sayers as part of the franchise’s history.

76 responses to “Bears’ Mt. Rushmore stirs up debate over the omission of Ditka

  1. as usual with your expert opinion you are wrong florio. saying that they should have won does negate the fact the won their only one because of him. and there were other factors like having a qb that was always injured in addition to other injuries that played a part in the bears not winning more not just ditka. without da coach there is no da bears!

  2. Ditka deserves a place almost as much as halas does.
    i’d put ditka,halas,payton and gale sayers on mt bearmore every time. Ditka is one of the best 5 ever tight ends to play the game easily,and he was also a sucessfull coach on tom landry’s staff on most of the great cowboy teams back then as well as winning a sb in chicago in 1985.i hate the guy as a host,but the guy knows football pretty damn good!

  3. Whats the point of polling if you select your own personal mt rushmore and tout is as “the” beats mt rushmore of PFT?

  4. See this is what happens when you let other people who aren’t from the home city vote. I’m sure it wasn’t a worldwide decision on who went up on Mount Rushmore.

  5. I guess I don’t understand the point of us voting if regardless you are going to decide the outcome with your “expert” opinion

  6. Sayers over Ditka??? Really??? That is ludicrous. Ditka coached the Bears to their only Super Bowl win (yes, I know they have 8 other championships) and he really is the first person that comes to mind when most people think of the bears. What is the point of having fans vote if you’re just going to make the decision anyway? Florio is the first blockhead on the idiot pundit Mt. Rushmore.

  7. I voted for the four Florio choices listed, and did not vote for Iron Mike, much as he is a Chicago institution. I only considered voting for him as an all time great Bears player, BTW, and would never have voted for him as a coach. That 1985 team had great talent, but was also a one trick pony – the Buddy Ryan max blitz on defense. Once Joe Gibbs had one off season to plan for it, the Skins showed the Bears the door in the playoffs two years in a row.

  8. Not having Ditka who gave them their only Superbowl as a Coach and was one of their all time greats as a player is a joke. Sayers was great but touting “Brian’s Song” as was cemented his greatness and mentioning the fact that he only played 7 years kind of shows that the movie went to your head more than the actual on the field stuff did. Sayers was a stud…but his legacy doesn’t match Ditka’s in terms of what the Bears accomplished with each respectively.

  9. Ahhh… Using a movie a movie for justification doesn’t work.
    Sayers was AWESOME… But as y said his career was cut short and Ditka performed as a player and Superbowl winning coach.

  10. “Ditka deserves a place almost as much as halas does.”

    You could not be more wrong. Sayers was the best Bear’s running back of all time. I loved Walter Payton, but watch Gale Sayers play. Unfortunately, it’s only via Youtube or NFL Films. Ask the old timers who watched both play.

    As far as Halas?

    National Football League Co-Founder
    8 NFL Championships (1921, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1963)
    2× AP NFL Coach of the Year (1963, 1965)
    2× Sporting News Coach of the Year (1963, 1965)
    2× UPI NFL Coach of the Year (1963, 1965)
    NFL 1920s All-Decade Team
    Record for Chicago Bears career wins (324)
    318–148–31 (regular season record)
    6–4 (playoff record)
    324–152–31 (overall record)
    Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1963

    How does Ditka even come close to that?

  11. Hey D-bag it is a vote, don’t have a vote if your going to ignore it. Da Coach is a HOF tight end, and the second best coach in francize history…TWO reasons he belongs. Gale while a awesome player had his career cut short with injuries, if he had been able to stay healthy would have rivaled for the best of all time, but he didn’t stay on the field to accomplish that.

  12. just be happy bear fan you have such a storied history it is how you say, a good problem.

  13. As a kid, before I began a life as a football fanatic, understood the game, or truly appreciated the greatness of Payton, Hampton, Singletary and the rest of that phenomenal defense; Ditka with his sweater vest, slicked back hair, shades and short temper was every bit as much the emblem of the Chicago Bears as the C on the helmet. Ditka was the face of the Bears for an entire generation and a city on the cusp of the transformation into superfans.

    Way to ignore the voters who, you know, are actually Bears fanatics and just pick your own. Why even have a vote? I’m sorry I paid any attention to this whole aggrandizement.

  14. The problem with older teams is who do you leave off?
    Take the Browms list Paul Brown….Otto Graham
    ….Jim Brown….Lou Groza, Marion Mottley…Bernie Kosar…Dick Schafraff…Gene Hiskerson…Speedy Mack…Donte LaVelli…Leroy Kelly….Mike McCormick … Paul Warfield…..Ozzie Newsome … Feank Gatski…. Mickey McBride…. Gary Collins … Frank Minnifield…Hanford Dixon (The Original Top Dawg)…. Greg Pruitt….. Don C-Roft (Censor program will not allow his name)……. Phil Dawson… Josh Cribbs …. Clay Mathews (Daddy)……Bobby Mitchel… Joe Thomas….Jerry Sherk …..Ernie Davis….Milt Morin…Ray Renfro … Mac Speedie … Thom Darden…. Bobby Mitchell… Ernie Green….Brian Sipe… Kevin Mack…Mike Pruitt…Earnest Byner…Webster Slaughter…Joe DeLamielleure….Lou Saban….Bill Willis….Ray Renfro… Frank Ryan….
    Coaching tree …..
    Paul Brown….Don Shula….Martyy Shottenhimer…Weeb Ubank… Lou Saban…Sam Ruttigliano…Dick McFerson…Bill Arnspager…Blanton Collier…Howard Schnellenberger…And some guy named buill walsh leading to Guys like Holgrem..

    Who do you leave off?

  15. Honestly, other than a few sports nuts in the greater Chicago area, who really gives a rats patoot about a mythical Bears Mt. Rushmore. What a stupid exercise in banality.

  16. Gale Sayers was not that great. He only played seven years and averaged a measly 708 rushing yards a season with only two season over 1000 yards. I can think of at least 20 RBs over the past decade with better stats. He was also a prolific fumbler.

  17. I was under the impression that football was a sport. In a sport, the goal is to win, a 15-1 record with a Superbowl Championship, the only one the Bears have seen, is why Ditka Deserves to be on Bear’s Mt. Rushmore. I am a fan of the old videos of Sayers racing up and down the field, but as it was stated before, he only played 7 years, a fact that has kept several great players out of the HoF. I strongly believe Sayer’s legend was greater than his contribution, because in the end, he played just over a handful of years and has no ring to even show for it. There are several teams in the NFL with an empty trophy case, many of us mock those teams, Ditka made sure the Bears were not one of them.

  18. I will never waste my time voting on anything on this website again.
    Next time at least preface your voting with.

    “Your votes don’t mean squat because no matter what the outcome is I will pick the winner based on a MOVIE I saw 20+ years ago.”
    But please vote to drive up the page hits, how pathetic.

    You let the lawyer in you take over too much Mike.

  19. I am appalled that Nagurski did not make it. He was the Bears first great middle linebacker and he played fullback.He was thee greatest football player ever! Sayers was great but did not play long enough. I could have lived with Halas, Nagurski, Butkus, and Payton. Even though Bulldog Turner belongs there more than Payton. No Nagurski? The windy city blows my mind!

  20. Only the uninformed Tecmo Bowl crowd voted for Ditka. The guy won one single SB with arguably the greatest team ever assembled. Not to mention, the Bears were in the absolute worst, garbage division in the 80s. The Packers you see today sure didn’t exist then. The Lions, Vikings and Bucs all stunk too. Get a clue people.

    If you want to get picky, there’s an argument that Grange should replace Sayers. Sayers was awesome but didn’t play too long. Grange was the Bears in the early days when they were winning all kinds of NFL Titles. Go back to the XBox and Fantasy Football you know-nothings.

  21. agree with Hipple…Nagurski could have replaced Sayers as well. Bottom line, Ditka is wayyy down the chart.

  22. If Mike Ditka gets a spot on Rushmore, then the name “Buddy Ryan” deserves to be chiseled across his forehead. No way Ditka’s teams get anywhere without Ryan’s 46 Defense. How many rings did Iron Mike win after Ryan left? Not to discredit his skills as a tight end, though, because he was a beast. I’m just sayin….

  23. “Ditka ranks first among tight ends and fourth in Bears history with 4,503 yards, fifth in both receptions (316) and touchdown catches (34)”. Mike is also the only person to ever win a championship as both a player and a coach with the same team.

    And that was all before TEs were considered receivers. you listed all of Sayers stats, did you forget Ditka was a player before he coached?

  24. Gail was a good RB. But he wasn’t even a pimple on Mike Ditkas butt! Glad I’m not a bears fan. Ditka coached the bears to their one and only SB and those numbskulls don’t even put him on their mount rushmore. Crazy! Geaux Saints!

  25. I agree with Dent’s assessment that the Bears under Ditka should have won several SBs…But I still voted for him based on his playing career.

  26. and ditka beat the crud out of ryan in the shower cause ryan let miami beat them in that one game in 85…

    sayers was something else, but then again, no championships. i can go along with grange instead.

    7 seasons? more like 4 seasons and small chunks of a few others.

    if we count owner types, ok on halas. i probly wouldnt. bill george? sid luckman?

    the movie should not count for jack, obviously. but then, flawrieaux is a liberal lawyer. sorry for the redundancy there.

  27. Gale Sayers was not that great. He only played seven years and averaged a measly 708 rushing yards a season with only two season over 1000 yards. I can think of at least 20 RBs over the past decade with better stats. He was also a prolific fumbler.

    Umm, so was Payton. THAT gets lost in the glory of his greatness (or sweetness) too. But to say Sayers was not that great is like a slap in the face. Nowadays its all woulda, shoulda, coulda…and if Sayers (or even Butkus for that matter) had not suffered knee injuries that todays guys come back from after reconstructive surgery, both COULD have been playing long enough to win a couple titles on their own and put an end to all this mess. With that being said, Sayers WAS THAT great, in HIS era….an era that hadnt seen anything or anyone like him. He was basically the Devin Hester/Walter Payton of HIS time. You take that knee injury away and he’d quite possibly set some records that would STILL be standing today. What he did in that short time frame speaks volumes about the impact he had on the league. Do I think he deserves to be on the mountain? Honestly? I woulda gone with Ditka. But Sayers makes a strong case. I have no qualms with him being there though. Not that it would have mattered anyway *rolls eyes*

  28. thesteelers says:
    Jun 11, 2013 8:02 PM
    There is no debate. Ditka doesn’t belong.

    Of course there’s a debate, moron, or we wouldn’t be….you know….debating. Ditka belonged. He gave far more to the Bears over his career than Sayers. But look at the upside…at least Florio has been distracted from discussing a name change for the Skins for five minutes.

  29. Wow….I agree with Mike Florio. As big of a fan of Ditka, he did wear his welcome out. Sure, losing Wilbur Marshall to the Redskins hurt the defense but those egos (Dits) hurt more…. They should have two rings and Wally have a TD in them

  30. kwjsb says: Jun 11, 2013 8:30 PM

    The problem with older teams is who do you leave off? Take the Browns list

    Ummm… you forgot Brady Quinn.

  31. If he was only a coach I’d say OK, but Ditka was a hall of Fame Tight End as well. He revolutionized how the game was played , and won rookie of the year and had 12 TD in his rookie year. His 1st 4 years he was in the top 6 of reception and avg top 10 in receiving yards, as a TE in an age when TE didn’t catch. Ditka still has the 4th most receiving yards and Rec TD, and 5th most receptions in Bears history. He was a more revolutionary and evolutionary than Sayers. Let alone his showbiz contributions (SNL, Kicking and screaming w/ Will Ferrell, Broadcasting) have made him a bigger celebrity than Sayers.

  32. Give me a break. The Kansas comet was one of the greatest running backs of all time, don’t believe me go to you tube. No way Ditka comes before him, not even close. Hell Nagurski , Singletary and Urlacher come before Ditka. And I love da coach. And the other three already mentioned are absolutely untouchable so really why is this even an argument ?

  33. I’m good with no Ditka. The message earlier stating Ditka over Halas was hopefully written by an uneducated 6 year old. The inclusion of Sayers I need to digest and relook at the list. I feel like someone from the 85 defense should be on it

  34. The Bears were a very cheap Team and the minute the 85 Bears won the Super Bowl the Bears started letting the players go to other Teams.

    Bill Walsh stated that had THE BEARS ORGANIZATION kept that Team in tact they would have won more Super Bowls.

    Let be honest here, without Ditka and his 85 Bears, the only Bears History to talk about you would need Charlie Chaplin to explain to you.

    It is like talking about Americas founding Fathers and telling George Washington to take a hike, only Bears Fans could come up with something like that.

  35. I punched out on this one being a serious football conversation when Mike Singletary was sitting there listening to stories about movies.

  36. I know very few younger fans can appreciate this, but Red Grange was one of the five most important players in the history of the NFL, and certainly of the Bears. George Halas called him the greatest player he ever saw, both because of his play on the field, and his importance as a cultural figure that gave the struggling NFL legitimacy in the 1920s. I wish more people knew this, and he could have been included on more ballots.

  37. To whoever is dim enough to say 20 guys in the last decade have put up totals as good as Sayers’ single season stats, guess what? The play more games now, of course there’s going to be more 1000 yard rushers.
    As for Ditka, I think you could debate whether Buddy Ryan is more deserving, at least as far as coaches go. If not for Saturday Night Live there wouldn’t be much outrage over Ditka’s omission.

  38. I’d argue that Ditka’s career as a TE was equal to Sayer’s as a RB. Add in the fact that he won a SB there as a coach (had a .631 win % there too) and Ditka seems like a lock over Sayers. Heck, Sayers was just the Terrell Davis of the 60’s.

  39. Overriding the voting??? This has turned into a very lame process, just like how the comments are managed. Your just like my control freak eighth grade science teacher who liked to suck the fun out of everything. Your probably the kid who never got picked for a team. I quit the voting. Have totally lost interest if you can pull a coup on the community!!

  40. Longevity means quite a bit when it comes to ranking NFL historical icons. Seven years of greatness doesn’t cut it when the team has guys like Grange & Nagurski. I think Sayers is one of the best ever based in watching him. However I think Sterling Sharpe was one of the best ever as well, Terrell Davis’ career was too short to be considered an all-time great, but he was amazing for a few years.
    Longevity is too important to historical icon ranking to be tossed aside in loving memory of a childhood film. Florida missed the mark, but Ditka was not the guy who should replace Sayers on that mountain.

  41. You are wrong. Having said that, this whole Mt. Rushmore thing is dumb but I guess it generates lots of clicks and comments for you.

  42. Grew up in chicago
    Mike Ditka was the face and the coach of the first team in my lifetime to bring us a championship in ANY sport.
    Sayers was amazing, and yes I saw him play as a kid.
    But Ditka brought us something that STILL hasnt been matched.

  43. You are just wrong on this, Florio. Ditka is ICONIC. When people think of Da Bears, people think of Ditka more than any other figure in Bears history. Yes, Payton was an amazing player and deserves his spot, but people think of Ditka.

    If you are carving a monument, that’s who and what you want on it.

  44. I’m glad to see Ditka off of it… especially the 1980s, mustachioed, underachieving head coach incarnation.

    I can’t believe it needs to be said, but no Singletary. He wasn’t even the best player on that defense.

  45. BTW, 4 percent of those who voted have to be Viking fans. I mean, seriously, Walter Payton NOT on there?

  46. I’ve been a Bears fan my whole life and the first teams I remember were the Butkus/Sayers teams (Ditka already gone). I agree with Florio’s Four (same four I voted for) and anyone who discredits Sayers greatness is an imbecile. With that being said I love Ditka too. He had a great playing career and he took us to our only SB win. I still feel cheated somehow with that 85 team as they should have won more. In my opinion, with all that talent, Ditka underachieved as a head coach. Remember, without Buddy Ryan, he won nothing. This is why I did not vote for Mike.

  47. Ditka may or may not be worthy, based upon his record as a coach.

    He is clearly worthy, however, based upon his playing career.

    Add the two together and there can be no doubt!

  48. filthymcnasty1 says: Jun 12, 2013 2:15 PM

    “On behalf of all my Bear fan friends, this list IS AN OUTRAGE.”

    I sincerely doubt you have many Bear fan friends, and certainly none who would EVER allow you to speak on their behalf.

  49. The four chosen are exactly right. You might be able to exchange Gale Sayers (my favorite Bear) with Sid Luckman, but I couldn’t. Da Coach doesn’t make it. He’s a great one, but he spent so much of his time “being Mike Ditka.” If he had the same career and had a personality like Tom Landry or someone like that, we wouldn’t even be raising his name.

  50. The 1985 edition:

    William “Refrigerator” Perry
    Jim McMahon
    Walter Payton
    Mike Ditka

    Maybe not influential…but certainly entertaining!!!

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