Mike Ditka
American football player, coach and television commentator
Mike Ditka
Michael Keller Ditka, Jr. is a former American football NFL player, television commentator, and coach. Ditka coached the Chicago Bears for 11 years and New Orleans Saints for three years. Ditka and Tom Flores are the only two people to win Super Bowls as a player, an assistant coach, and a head coach. Ditka was the only individual to participate in both of the last two Chicago Bears' championships, as a player in 1963 and as head coach in 1985.
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NFL Turns Toddlers Into Itty-Bitty Football Legends For Super Bowl Ad
Huffington Post - 19 days
For last year’s Super Bowl, the NFL released an ad featuring “Super Bowl Babies,” or babies born nine months in cities whose teams won the Super Bowl (because well, you know). This year, the league hired a handful of "baby legends" to channel some football icons. For its 30-second “Super Bowl Baby Legends” commercial, the NFL dressed kids up as seven football legends throughout Super Bowl history. The icons include coaches like Vince Lombardi (the inspiration behind the name of the Super Bowl trophy) who led the Green Bay Packers to victory in the first two Super Bowls and three-time Super Bowl champ Mike Ditka who won the game as a player, an assistant coach and a head coach. The ad also celebrates players like Marshawn Lynch who won in 2014 with the Seattle Seahawks and Von Miller, the MVP of Super Bowl 50. Instead of Seal providing the background music like last year’s ad, Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration” fuels the soundtrack for the commercial. Channeling ...
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Huffington Post article
Mike Ditka: 'I don't see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on'
Chicago Times - 5 months
Mike Ditka said Friday he has no respect for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has refused to stand during the national anthem since the NFL preseason. “Anybody who disrespects this country and the flag, if they don’t like our flag then get the hell out,” he said on Dallas’...
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Chicago Times article
Mike Ditka: 'I don't see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on'
LATimes - 5 months
Mike Ditka said Friday he has no respect for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has refused to stand during the national anthem since the NFL preseason. “Anybody who disrespects this country and the flag, if they don’t like our flag then get the hell out,” he said on Dallas’...
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LATimes article
Simone Biles and Aimee Boorman formed a partnership that goes well beyond gymnastics
LATimes - 6 months
The day before the women’s gymnastics team final, a Twitter user suggested Simone Biles and her coach Aimee Boorman were their sport’s equivalent to Walter Payton and Mike Ditka. “Sounds about right,” Payton’s son, Jarrett, chimed in on Twitter. Never mind that the Chicago-born Boorman doesn’t...
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LATimes article
Mike Ditka to appear at GOP convention to support Trump, sources say
Chicago Times - 8 months
ESPN has nothing on this summer's Republican national convention.Donald Trump's campaign aides are lining up a slate of iconic sports figures to appear at the national convention in Cleveland next month - including former undisputed world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, legendary Chicago Bears...
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Chicago Times article
Look who has a Super Bowl coaching tree since the Bears' one-peat, my frent
Chicago Times - about 1 year
How many Super Bowl appearances constitute a coaching tree? If the answer is four, then Mike Ditka has a coaching tree. That’s four more than I would’ve expected from a coach best-known for yelling at players, fighting with his defensive coordinator and grabbing away the clipboard from his offensive...
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Chicago Times article
Director shows human side of '85 Bears in ESPN documentary
Chicago Times - about 1 year
Even the 1985 Bears are tired of talking about the 1985 Bears. "I don't know what else there is to say," Mike Ditka told director Jason Hehir as he sat down to chat yet again about his fabled team. When Hehir told Ditka this interview was for an ESPN "30 for 30" film, the coach said, "Oh, you're...
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Chicago Times article
Ditka curse over (Packers win) ... or is it? (Bears lose)
Chicago Times - about 1 year
Mike Ditka took off the Packers sweater and his old enemy beat the Vikings. He dons a Bears sweater and his old team loses to the Broncos. The so-called "Ditka curse" has ended in Green Bay and is back where it belongs: Chicago. OK, that may be a bit over the top, but Packers and Bears fans are...
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Chicago Times article
Anger management classes ordered for Ditka's son after casino altercation
Chicago Times - over 1 year
A son of former Bears coach Mike Ditka was ordered to attend anger management classes after he pleaded guilty Friday to disorderly conduct. Michael P. Ditka, 53, of Deerfield, was charged with battery in July after an altercation with another man at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, authorities said....
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Chicago Times article
Anger management classes ordered for Ditka's son after casino altercation
Chicago Times - over 1 year
A son of former Bears coach Mike Ditka was ordered to attend anger management classes after he pleaded guilty Friday to disorderly conduct. Michael P. Ditka, 53, of Deerfield, was charged with battery in July after an altercation with another man at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, authorities said....
Article Link:
Chicago Times article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Mike Ditka
  • 2016
    Age 76
    In March 2016, ESPN and Ditka announced he would move to Sportscenter for remote-broadcasting analysis, as Ditka disliked the long trek from his home to the studio.
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  • 2015
    Age 75
    In 2015, Ditka did several television ads for McDonald's.
    More Details Hide Details He was seen wearing a Green Bay Packers sweater vest. Some would later question if Ditka "jinxed" the Packers, as their six-game undefeated streak halted to a three-game losing streak during the airing of the commercials (including a loss to the Bears on Thanksgiving). A follow-up commercial would show Ditka throwing the Packers sweater vest out the window and donning his more familiar Bears sweater vest once the contest was over. Just hours after the spot was aired, the Packers went on to beat the Vikings, ending the "curse". During the 1985 season he was arrested on Interstate 294 near O'Hare International Airport and later convicted of DUI after returning from a game against the San Francisco 49ers.
  • 2014
    Age 74
    Four years later, in 2014, Ditka appeared in a televised campaign ad for Quinn's Republican challenger, Bruce Rauner, who defeated Quinn in the general election.
    More Details Hide Details In October 2011, Ditka and the 1985 team went to the White House after they did not attend in 1986 due to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. He presented President Obama with a Chicago Bears jersey with the number 85 on it with "Obama" on the back of it.
    In 2014, Ditka and Resultly partnered to feature his profile and product collections.
    More Details Hide Details Ditka's profile is featured on Resultly and he regularlrly interacts with users about the collections he creates of his favorite items from all over the web.
  • 2013
    Age 73
    Also in 2013, Ditka and former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon are featured in a new series of commercials for the online discount retailer Overstock.com.
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    In 2013, Ditka and Vienna Beef partnered to create Ditka Sausages, which will be eight inches long and one-third pound in weight.
    More Details Hide Details The two types are "Hot Beef Polish Sausage" and "Chicken Sausage with Mozzarella and Sun-Dried Tomatoes".
    On December 9, 2013, Ditka's Bears jersey number, 89, was retired in a halftime ceremony during a Monday Night Football game in Chicago as the Bears hosted the Dallas Cowboys, for whom Ditka also played and worked as an assistant coach under the late Tom Landry. "Thank you, thank you, thank you, and go Bears!" Ditka told the crowd.
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  • 2012
    Age 72
    The first Mike Ditka Wines were released in fall 2012, including eight labels highlighting his career: "The Player" (2011 Pinot Grigio and 2010 Merlot), "The Coach" (2011 Sauvignon Blanc and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon), " The Hall of Famer" (2011 Chardonnay and 2011 Pinot Noir), and "The Restaurateur" pair which includes "The Icon" (2010 Cabernet Sauvignon) and "The Champion" (2010 Red Blend)."
    More Details Hide Details The same year, Ditka and Camacho Cigars partnered and produced a line of cigars called “The Mike Ditka Kickoff Series”. These cigars are named to highlight the milestones of Coach Ditka’s football career: “The Player”, The Coach”, and “The Hall of Famer”. All of these cigars are produced in Honduras.
    In 2012, Ditka partnered with Terlato Wines to produce his own collection of wines, produced in California.
    More Details Hide Details The partnership stemmed from a 20-year friendship between Ditka and Bill Terlato and their shared love of sports and food and wine.
  • 2011
    Age 71
    Ditka was a co-owner the Chicago Rush, an Arena Football League team. In August 2011, media reports noted that Ditka would be a financial investor for the new Elite Football League of India, a proposed American football league that will be India's first.
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  • 2007
    Age 67
    In the spring of 2007, Ditka worked alongside X Management and Geneva Hospitality to form Mike Ditka Resorts, currently consisting of two resorts in the Orlando, Florida, area.
    More Details Hide Details Ditka owns a chain of restaurants, "Ditka's," which has two locations in Illinois, one in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a new one in Phoenix, Arizona. Ditka discovered singer John Vincent, who has been performing at his Chicago restaurant since 2001. Vincent performs in 20 different voices and sings the National Anthem regularly for the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Ditka and Vincent also own a record label together.
    Ultimately, however, in December 2007, Ditka folded his "Hall of Fame Assistance Trust Fund" charity amidst revelations that, "in 2005, the group gave out more money to pay celebrities to play golf than the group in its entire three years of operation gave out to injured players", according to Laurie Styron of the American Institute of Philanthropy.
    More Details Hide Details During Super Bowl XLIV, Ditka (who was not in the original group) joined other members of the 1985 Chicago Bears in resurrecting the "Super Bowl Shuffle" in a Boost Mobile commercial.
    In January 2007, Ditka used the Super Bowl return of the Chicago Bears as a platform to promote efforts by many early NFL players trying to raise support for former NFL players in need of money and medical assistance; he is a key member in the Gridiron Greats.
    More Details Hide Details Angry at the wealthy NFL for ignoring the players who helped to create the league, Ditka and other former players have since been attempting to raise funds, in the words of Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure, "for guys who made this league and built it on their backs, their knees, their legs and now they're all broken down and they can't even get a decent pension."
  • 2006
    Age 66
    However, the team was defeated by the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game and this would be the last time the team would advance that far until they won the 2006 NFC Championship Game.
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    Although the two men continued to work together, the relationship continued to deteriorate and with the Bears trailing by three touchdowns in a late season Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins that resulted in the team's only loss, Ryan finally snapped after Ditka, as he recounted in 2006 for NFL Network, told him that the defensive scheme was not working.
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  • 2005
    Age 65
    In 2005, Ditka had a major role in the comedy Kicking & Screaming, playing himself; he was recruited by Will Ferrell's character to be an assistant little league soccer coach.
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  • 2001
    Age 61
    Ditka was inducted to the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
    More Details Hide Details Ditka has also done guest spots and cameos on shows from L.A. Law to Saturday Night Live, as well as Cheers, and 3rd Rock from the Sun.
  • 2000
    Age 60
    After he was fired by the Saints, Ditka joined CBS Sports, spending the 2000 and 2001 seasons as a studio analyst on The NFL Today.
    More Details Hide Details He is currently a commentator on ESPN's NFL Live, ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, and CBS Radio-Westwood One's Monday Night Football pregame show. On his radio show, Coach Ditka is called "America's Coach" by well known sidekick Jim Gray. Beginning in 2006, Ditka appeared on a Seattle radio program, "Groz with Gas" on 950 KJR-AM Seattle, on Thursday afternoons with Dave Grosby and Mike Gastineau. Ditka regularly appears on Chicago radio station ESPN 1000 (WMVP-AM), often broadcasting on Thursday mornings from one of his eponymous restaurants along with ESPN 1000 mid-morning hosts Marc Silverman and Tom Waddle, a former Bears player under Ditka. Ditka served as color commentator for ESPN's September 10, 2007, broadcast of Monday Night Football, alongside Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic. He replicated this role on the second game of the doubleheader in 2008, as well. Ditka spent several years with ESPN working on Sunday NFL Countdown.
  • 1999
    Age 59
    In 1999, he was ranked number 90 on The Sporting Newss list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
    More Details Hide Details Almost immediately after his dismissal from the Bears in 1992, Ditka took a broadcasting job with NBC, working as an analyst on NFL Live and as a color commentator for many other NBC broadcasts.
    The 1999 season proved to be the worst of Ditka's coaching career and his frustrations showed in the local media.
    More Details Hide Details After a late season practice with the team sitting at 2–7, Ditka was very abrupt and dismissive of reporters whom he felt were asking him stupid questions and was asked by one of them why he was in such a foul mood. Ditka responded by asking the reporter, "what do you care?" When the reporter tried to follow up, he said "if you were 2–7 you'd be in a bad mood too." Shortly thereafter Ditka walked away from the reporters and left. The low point of the season came three weeks later in a loss to the Falcons which was the Saints' tenth in eleven weeks. Ditka came into the postgame press conference appearing emotionally exhausted and said he felt the Saints would be better off hiring someone else to coach the team. Ditka claimed he "didn't have it anymore", and said to the reporters that "God puts people in places for reasons, and he probably put me here to be humbled. I deserve it." He said that he was leaning toward leaving the Saints but would wait until after the season to do so unless he believed the team was already inclined to fire him. When asked if he believed the team quit on him, Ditka said that he did not believe that, saying that it was his responsibility to have the team ready to play and that he had "failed" in that role. After a few more questions, Ditka walked away from the reporters and called the whole exercise "silly".
    After finishing his first two seasons with identical 6–10 marks, Ditka was roundly criticized for the trading of all of the team's 1999 draft picks (plus their first round draft pick in 2000) to the Washington Redskins to move up in the draft and select Texas RB Ricky Williams (Washington would later use the picks to select future Pro Bowlers Champ Bailey, Jon Jansen, and LaVar Arrington).
    More Details Hide Details The trade was further mocked because of a magazine cover in which Ditka posed with Williams, who was wearing a wedding dress.
  • 1997
    Age 57
    In 1997, Ditka was hired by the New Orleans Saints to be the permanent replacement for Jim Mora, who had resigned during the previous season.
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  • 1995
    Age 55
    In 1995, Ditka starred as a football coach in a full-motion video game called Quarterback Attack with Mike Ditka, released for the Sega Saturn, PC, and 3DO.
    More Details Hide Details Ditka appeared as himself in the 271st and final episode of the American TV sitcom Cheers. Ditka also appeared as himself in the show "According to Jim," in the episode "Cars & Chicks". Ditka appeared in several ads for Montgomery Ward in the early 1990s, promoting their electronics and appliances department, known as Electric Avenue. Ditka performed "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field in 1998, the first season after the death of Harry Caray, who had previously led the song. Chicago Now blogger Marcus Leshock derided the performance, dubbing Ditka "the worst 7th-inning singer in history."
  • 1992
    Age 52
    After dropping to 5–11 in the 1992 season, the Bears fired Ditka.
    More Details Hide Details His 106 wins are the second-most in Bears history, behind only Halas. He was awarded NFL Coach of the Year honors in 1985 and 1988 by the Associated Press, The Sporting News, and Pro Football Weekly.
  • 1988
    Age 48
    In the midst of a successful 1988 season, he suffered a heart attack, but bounced back quickly.
    More Details Hide Details In November 2012, he suffered a minor stroke at a suburban country club in Chicago. Later in the day, Ditka reported he was feeling "good right now and it's not a big deal." He is a practicing Roman Catholic and a member of the Knights of Columbus. In July 2004, Ditka, a self-described "ultra-ultra-ultra conservative", was reportedly considering running against the Democratic candidate, state senator Barack Obama, for an open seat in the U.S. Senate for Illinois in the 2004 Senate election. The seat was being vacated by Peter Fitzgerald, a Republican, and Republican nominee Jack Ryan withdrew from the race amid controversy at the end of June, leaving the Republicans in a bind. Local and national political leaders, from Illinois Republican Party Chair Judy Baar Topinka to National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Sen. George Allen, whose father by the same name was an assistant coach with the Bears in the 1960s when Ditka played, met with Ditka in an effort to persuade him to fill the spot on the ticket.
    Ditka suffered a heart attack during the 1988 season and was expected to miss much of the season, but was on the sidelines as an "advisor" the next week and back in full charge the week after.
    More Details Hide Details The Bears started 4–0 in 1989, but a series of last-second losses eventually led to a complete meltdown at the end of the season as the Bears finished 6–10. The Bears rallied to win a weak Central Division in 1990 and make the playoffs as a wild card in 1991, but were eliminated convincingly in the early rounds.
  • 1986
    Age 46
    The following year, Ditka's coaching career hit its pinnacle on January 26, 1986, with a 46–10 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
    More Details Hide Details Ditka has stated that one of his biggest regrets in life was not letting Walter Payton score a touchdown in the Super Bowl, instead opting for Jim McMahon to run it in twice and rookie defensive tackle William "The Refrigerator" Perry to run it in once. Football commentators widely regard the 1985 Bears defense as one of the best ever. It was masterminded by defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, with little oversight from Ditka; in fact, Ditka and Ryan had a largely adversarial relationship dating back to Ditka's hire as Ryan, who was already on the coaching staff when Ditka joined the Bears, felt that he should have been promoted into the head coaching position.
  • 1985
    Age 45
    The NFL Network series America's Game rated the 1985 Bears as the second-best Super Bowl champions ever.
    More Details Hide Details Buddy Ryan left in 1986 to become the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. When asked if he was happy Ryan was gone, Ditka replied he was not happy, but "elated". In 1986, 1987, and 1988, the Bears won the Central Division title and earned three home playoff games. The first of those years saw the Bears finish the regular season with a 14–2 record to tie the New York Giants for the best in the entire league. However, the Bears were upset by the Washington Redskins in their first playoff game. The next year, the Bears finished second in the NFC with an 11–4 record, but were again upended by the Redskins en route to that team's second Super Bowl victory of the decade. The Bears finished 12–4 in 1988 and got homefield advantage, and defeated Ryan's Eagles in the Fog Bowl in their first game.
  • 1981
    Age 41
    After firing previous coach Neill Armstrong following the 1981 season, Halas decided to take Ditka up on his offer from several years earlier and hired him to become the team's head coach for 1982 season.
    More Details Hide Details Although the Bears had made the playoffs under Armstrong and his predecessor Jack Pardee, those were the only two winning seasons since Halas' retirement as coach and he was looking for a coach who would bring the Bears back to prominence. Shortly after his hiring, as recounted by Mike Singletary in 2006, Ditka called a team meeting. In the meeting he warned that the team would experience some turnover, but if they were all willing to work hard for him and stand with him, Ditka promised a trip to the Super Bowl within three seasons. Specifically Ditka said "Give me three years, and if you walk with me, we'll get to the dance." By his third season, Ditka led the Bears to the NFC Championship Game, where the Bears were shut out by the eventual Super Bowl-winning 49ers in San Francisco.
    His last game with the Cowboys was the 1981 NFC Championship Game, where the team fell to the San Francisco 49ers.
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  • 1977
    Age 37
    During his tenure, the Cowboys made the playoffs eight times, won six division titles, three NFC Championships and a Super Bowl victory in 1977.
    More Details Hide Details While working with the Cowboys, Ditka sent a letter to George Halas, his former head coach who was still owner of the Chicago Bears. In the letter Ditka said that he would like to come back to Chicago and be the head coach of the Bears "when he was ready". Meanwhile, the Cowboys continued to win games although they did not win another Super Bowl while Ditka was there.
  • 1972
    Age 32
    Retiring after the 1972 season, Ditka was immediately hired as an assistant coach by Cowboys' head coach Tom Landry.
    More Details Hide Details Ditka spent nine seasons as an assistant coach with the Cowboys.
  • 1967
    Age 27
    Ditka was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1967 where he spent two seasons, before being shipped off to the Dallas Cowboys in 1969.
    More Details Hide Details He spent four seasons with the Cowboys, highlighted by a touchdown reception in the Cowboys' 24–3 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. He is the only Head Coach in the history of the Super Bowl to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl as a player.
  • 1963
    Age 23
    He played on the 1963 NFL championship team.
    More Details Hide Details Many of the players from that team, including Ditka, were drafted by assistant coach George Allen, a future Hall of Famer, who was then in charge of the Bears drafts. During the season, against the Los Angeles Rams, Ditka tied Harlon Hill's franchise record for the most receiving touchdowns in a game with four. Ditka ranks first among tight ends and fourth in Bears history with 4,503 yards, fifth in both receptions (316) and touchdown catches (34). The Bears retired Ditka's number 89 jersey on December 9, 2013 during halftime of the Bears game against the Dallas Cowboys. The number will be the final number retired by the Bears.
    Ditka was the only person to participate in both of the last two Chicago Bears' championships, as a player in 1963 and as head coach in 1985.
    More Details Hide Details He is known by the nickname "Iron Mike," which he has said comes from his being born and raised in a steel town in Pennsylvania.
    He was an NFL champion with the 1963 Bears, and is a three-time Super Bowl champion, playing on the Cowboys Super Bowl VI team as well as winning as an assistant coach for the Cowboys in Super Bowl XII, and coaching the Bears to victory in Super Bowl XX.
    More Details Hide Details He was named to both the NFL's 50th and 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. As a coach for the Bears for 11 years he was twice both the AP and UPI NFL Coach of Year (1985 and 1988). He also coached the New Orleans Saints for three years. Ditka and Tom Flores are the only people to win an NFL title as a player, an assistant coach, and a head coach. Ditka, Flores and Gary Kubiak are also the only people in modern NFL history to win a championship as head coach of a team he played for previously.
  • 1961
    Age 21
    The Chicago Bears drafted Ditka fifth overall in the 1961 NFL Draft, while the Houston Oilers drafted him eighth overall in the first round in the 1961 AFL Draft.
    More Details Hide Details He signed with the Bears and his presence was immediately felt. In his first season, Ditka had 58 receptions, introducing a new dimension to a tight end position that had previously been dedicated to blocking. He also scored 12 receiving touchdowns, which was the most by a Bears rookie. His success earned him Rookie of the Year honors. He continued to play for the Bears for the next five years, earning a Pro Bowl trip each season.
  • 1958
    Age 18
    Ditka played for the University of Pittsburgh from 1958 until 1960, where he also became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
    More Details Hide Details He was a three-sport athlete at Pitt, also playing baseball and basketball. He started all three seasons, leading the team in receiving in each, and also served as the team's punter. A first team selection on the College Football All-America Team in his senior year, he is widely considered one of the best tight ends in college football history, and was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968.
  • 1939
    Ditka was born as Michael Dyczko in the Pittsburgh-area town of Carnegie, Pennsylvania on October 18, 1939.
    More Details Hide Details The oldest child of Charlotte (Keller) and Mike Ditka, Sr. he grew up in nearby Aliquippa with siblings Ashton, David, and Mary Ann. His father, a welder, was one of three brothers of a Polish and Ukrainian family in the coal mining and steel manufacturing area in Western Pennsylvania. His ancestry on his mother's side is Irish and German. The Polish surname "Dyczko" was difficult to pronounce in his hometown, so the family name was changed to "Ditka." Ditka attended St. Titus School. Under head coach Press Maravich, Ditka was a three-sport star at Aliquippa High School. Ditka hoped to escape his hometown's manufacturing jobs by attending college with a football scholarship. Planning to become a dentist, he was recruited by Notre Dame, Penn State, and University of Pittsburgh.
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