Chicago, IL, United States (4E Sports) – The Chicago Bears retired former tight end Mike Ditka’s No. 89 jersey during a ceremony at halftime of their showdown against the Dallas Cowboys Monday.
Ditka won an NFL championship as a tight end for George Halas in 1963 and coached the Bears to a Super Bowl in 1985.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you. Go Bears,” Ditka said as he ended his eight-minute speech.
The 74-year-old Ditka is still a famous fixture in Chicago and throughout football. He has steakhouses around Chicagoland, a variety of commercials and is a weekly contributor to ESPN 1000 radio and ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” studio show.
Ditka also makes money as he goes around the country making speeches.
“I’m just having fun with it,” he said of his popularity. “I can tell you honestly, probably the best thing that can happen is when you stop taking yourself so damn serious. And I quit. I don’t take myself serious.”
Because of the worldwide popularity of the shuffling 1985 Super Bowl team — not to mention those “Saturday Night Live” skits — Ditka’s fame far outstrips any Chicago athlete, past or present, outside Michael Jordan. Few fans have tired of Da Coach.
“Going through airports is pretty interesting,” Ditka said. “I think I have an obligation to do those things. I think when you don’t have time for people, you’ve got a problem.”