Da Coach has finally been recognized for all of his contributions to the Chicago Bears organization.
The Bears retired Mike Ditka‘s No. 89 at halftime during the Monday Night Football matchup against the Dallas Cowboys — fitting, since Dallas was the last team Ditka played for. He spent six seasons with the Bears as a tight end under head coach George Halas.
The Bears honored Ditka with a video montage that included well wishes and memories from former teammates and members of the 1985 Bears, the team that Ditka led to a win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XX. Ditka responded with a big “thank you” to the people of Chicago.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, and go Bears!” Ditka told the crowd.
The Bears have retired more numbers (13) than any other team in the NFL, and Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said the team will not retire any more numbers after Ditka’s.
“[W]e thought if there is going to be a last one, there is no more appropriate one than 89,” he said.
In 12 seasons with the Bears, Eagles and Cowboys, Ditka caught 427 passes for 5,812 yards and 43 touchdowns and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988. In 14 seasons as a head coach — including 11 with the Bears — Ditka complied a regular-season record of 121-95.
Ditka was fired by the Bears in 1992 but remains a local legend in Chicago.