View Full Version : NFLN series: A Football Life (Ditka)

11-04-2011, 03:59 PM
Man, the 1-hour long specials the NLFN has created on various guys from the past is amazing. This thread is dedicated to the discussion of the Mike Ditka series.

Some of the interesting things shared during this 1-hour special look into the NFL life of Mike Ditka:

1. Ditka caught like 18 passes as a TE in his last year at Univeristy of Pittsburgh. His rookie season for the Bears, he caught something like 59 passes.

2. Before Ditka, the TE was used mostly for blocking and was generally used for short passes. Ditka stretched the field and became a lethal deep target. When watching clips of him, he looks a lot like Owen Daniels! Fast speed, down-the-field routes, leaping grabs when double-covered.

3. Early in his career with the Bears, his base salary was $12,000 but he hit bonuses and earned an extra $6,000 (total of $18,000). That off-season, George Halas offered him a contract for $14,000 and told Ditka "This is a raise." Ditka says, "No it isn't. I made $18,000 last year." Halas then replies that Ditka made $12,000 and the new offer of $14,000 WAS indeed a raise. Ditka finally drew the line with Halas and told him, "I made $12,000 and then made an extra $6,000 to make it $18,000. I want $18,000 or else." Halas presented Ditka with a contract for $18,000. This led Ditka to make the comment, long since quoted by many in the NFL media, that "George Halas throws around nickels like they're manhole covers."

4. Ditka played for the Oilers until the leagues merged.

5. Tom Landry revitalized Ditka's career by having Ditka join the Cowboys as a TE. Ditka, IIRC, was on the Cowboys' first Super Bowl winning team. He later became a special teams coach for the Cowboys, under Landry who was still HC there, and spent something like 6 seasons as ST coach. This led to him asking Halas to become the head coach for the Bears, to which Halas agreed. Many Bears fans were very skeptical that Mike Ditka could become a quality head coach for the Bears.

Was just a really interesting look into his life, lots of other quality material in that show that I didn't share here. If you can catch the replay of it, hit your DVR and get it recorded when there's nothing else to watch on TV.

Double Barrel
11-04-2011, 04:44 PM
That entire series has been fantastic. I've watched them since the first one covering Belichick (two episodes). I haven't seen the Landry one last night, but my boy and I will watch it this weekend.

I really enjoyed the Ditka one. My son watched it and came away with a deeper understanding of football history and much respect for Iron Mike.

He seems like an approachable guy for fans, which I always appreciate. I'm not one to go up to celebrities, but I respect the ones that are cool to fans.

One note, though, he never played for the Houston Oilers. They drafted him as an AFL team, but he ended up signing with the Bears instead.

Mike was also drafted by the Houston Oilers of the rival American Football League. The Oilers offered more money but he opted for the Bears because he wanted to play with the best, which the NFL was considered to be at that time.


Mike became a prized target of the AFL during its brief raiding period in the spring of 1966. He signed a contract that gave him a $50,000 bonus and called for him to play out his option and join the Houston Oilers in 1967. Before Ditka could fulfill his contract, the AFL-NFL merger was announced. The Oilers told Mike he could keep the bonus but they would not hold him to his contract to play in Houston the net year.

Two months before the merger, however, the Bears traded Ditka to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Jack Concannon and a draft choice.

Source (http://www.chicagobears.com/tradition/hof-ditka.asp)

11-04-2011, 06:06 PM
The Landry show was excellent. I watched it last night when flipping through the channels to find something to watch.

Eerily similar situation with Gary Kubiak. Landry didn't have a winning record his first six years in Dallas.

Had "a system" (that sounds familiar) that made his offense an intricate attack that players had to buy into and basically "trust" at all times. I think Gary is more personable than Landry was; Landry's players (as we've discussed a lot on here) said he was demanding of excellence and felt that if the systems was ran to his (Landry's) satisfaction then victory was certain.

I won't spoil any more of it. I just keep thinking "Man, a lot of this has--and could--look like the Texans situation with Gary Kubiak. I wonder if McNair is taking the same approach with Gary Kubiak; trying to build his team into a dynasty like the Cowboys had.

Maybe next week we can discuss the Landry show in another thread. If your kid watches the Landry show, he'll be hooked. Probably already is, but the addiction will be even worse.