Mike Ditka is about to join a select group of Bears.
The Bears announced Friday that the organization would retire Ditka’s No. 89 this season. The number officially will be retired Dec. 9 during halftime of the Bears’ Monday Night Football game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Ditka played for the Bears from 1961-66 and coached the team from 1982-92. He is the only player in the NFL’s modern era to win a championship with the same team as a player (1963) and as a head coach (1985).
In 1988, Ditka became the first tight end inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Mike Ditka embodies the spirit of everything the Bears are about,” Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said in a statement. “He’s an icon. The last time we won the championship Mike Ditka was our coach and the last time we won before that Mike Ditka was a player. The organization knew it was the right thing to do.
“He revolutionized the tight end position as a player and grabbed an entire franchise by the throat as a head coach and willed it to victory in the Super Bowl. We have more retired numbers than any other team in the NFL. After this, we do not intend to retire any more numbers but we thought if there is going to be a last one, there is no more appropriate one than 89.”
Ditka’s No. 89 will become the 14th jersey number to be retired by the Bears.
3: Bronko Nagurski
5: George McAfee
7: George Halas
28: Willie Galimore
34: Walter Payton
40: Gale Sayers
41: Brian Piccolo
42: Sid Luckman
51: Dick Butkus
56: Bill Hewitt
61: Bill George
66: Clyde “Bulldog” Turner
77: Harold “Red” Grange
89: Mike Ditka
It’s appropriate that Ditka’s ceremony will occur during a nationally televised game against the Cowboys. He played for Dallas at the end of his career from 1969-72 and helped the team win Super Bowl VI.
After a pair of internships at The Sporting News and The Denver Post, Tom started at the Northwest Herald in June 2003. He has won many important awards, mostly in the field of thermonuclear medicine. He is always happy to talk about sports.