Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed December 9 as “Mike Ditka Day” in honor of the former Bears player and coach.
Ditka’s jersey, number 89, will be retired during halftime at the Bears game in Chicago that same day. Ditka will become the 14th player to have his number retired by the Bears.
Ditka was drafted by the Bears with the fifth overall pick in 1961 and he was Rookie of the Year that season. He was a tight end who played for the Bears through 1966 and he was selected to five Pro Bowls. Ditka was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1967 and then to the Dallas Cowboys in 1969.
Ditka was part of the Cowboys’ coaching staff from 1973 to 1981 and then became head coach of the Bears in 1982. Ditka’s Bears had a 15-1 record and won the Super Bowl in 1985. He was named NFL Coach of the Year in 1985 and again in 1988.
Ditka was the first tight end enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That honor came in 1988.
“Ditka is the only individual in the NFL’s modern era to win a league championship with teh same team as both a player (1963) and head coach (1985),” according the the Chicago Bears website.
Ditka coached the Bears through 1992. He owns restaurants in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Phoenix and works as a sports commentator.