Host Ed Sutkowski talks with Mike Ditka, Hall of Fame / NFL All-Pro Tight-End, 1985 Super Bowl; Coach Chicago Bears.
Michael K. (Dyczko) Ditka, Jr., 1 of 3 siblings, of Charlotte and Mike, Sr., was raised in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, the heart of the steel mills. Mike’s father, the original “Iron Mike”, a United States Marine, union organizer and welder, understood the downside of remaining in the steel mills. Mike, while characterized as having “chicken legs” by Carl Aschman, Mike’s high school football coach, ultimately captained the football, baseball and basketball teams and was elected Class President. Mike was recruited by dozens of major football powers, including Notre Dame, Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh. Given Pitt’s dental program, Mike chose Pitt then changed to history and captained Pitt’s football team as a defensive end, linebacker, receiver and punter. He achieved All American status and was 6th in the 1961 Heisman Trophy race.
Mike was drafted in the first round by George Halas of the Chicago Bears; his first year compensation was $12,000, plus a $6,000 bonus. He was voted as the 1961 Rookie of the Year; during his 12-year NFL playing career with the Chicago Bears, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, he recorded 427 receptions, including a touchdown in Super Bowl VI. Mike was enshrined as the first tight-end in the National Football League Hall of Fame in 1988. Mike began his NFL coaching career as the receiver’s coach under Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys, became the Chicago Bear’s head coach in 1982 and ended his coaching career with the New Orleans Saints in 2000.
The 1985 Chicago Bears was ranked as one of the best if not the best football team ever; it devastated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. During the interview, Mike described his relationship with and ranked Jim McMahon, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Walter Payton, Mike Singletary and Richard Dent. Mike’s post-football career includes numerous business ventures, media appearances, broadcasting stints, charitable activities and motivational speeches. He now resides in Chicago and Florida.