Mike Ditka is a larger-than-life figure in Bears history.â†µâ†µ
He was a starting tight end for the team from 1961-66, making 316 catches for 4503 yards; the yardage ranks fourth on the all-time team list behind Johnny Morris, Harlon Hill and Walter Payton. After Ditka got into a dispute with George Halas, he was traded to the Eagles and later wound up with the Cowboys, where he won a Super Bowl ring in 1971.
Ditka and Halas patched up their differences and Papa Bear was personally responsible for bringing Ditka back to Chicago as Bears coach in 1982, where he coached the Bears to their only Super Bowl before again leaving in an acrimonious firing in 1992.â†µâ†µ
Those differences have faded and Ditka has mellowed and today, the Sun-Times' Neil Hayes says the Bears should retire Ditka's No. 89:â†µâ†µ
The Bears have retired 13 numbers, more than any other franchise. Team executives worry about running out of numbers if they retire all the ones that deserve such recognition. Mike Singletary's No. 50 should be set aside, for example, as should Dan Hampton's No. 99. Twenty years from now, Brian Urlacher or Lance Briggs might warrant consideration.â†µâ†µâ†µWhat say you? Should the Bears give "Da Coach" this honor? Vote in the poll.
â†µIt's an interesting dilemma, to be sure, but given all he has meant to the franchise, if the Bears aren't going to retire Ditka's number, they should unretire them all. You can't retire the numbers of some worthy players but not other worthy Bears.