Illinois Flashback: 40 Years Ago, The Bears Hired Mike Ditka
Right now, in January of 2022, Chicago Bears fans are wondering who will be given the job as the team's next head coach. 40 years ago this week, the same sort of wondering was going on.
That came to an end on January 20th, 1982, when Papa Bear George Halas called a news conference. Four years and about a week later, the Bears were Super Bowl Champions.
Mike Ditka Had Written To George Halas Years Before, Telling Him He Wanted To Someday Coach The Chicago Bears
For those who don't recall, Mike Ditka didn't just walk off the field as a player and take over the head coaching job in Chicago. When Ditka wrapped up his career, legendary Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry hired Ditka as assistant head coach and special teams coach.
There Were Several Other Candidates For The Bears Job, But George Halas Remembered Ditka's Letter
BearsInsider.com explains that Halas took a risk on hiring Ditka, who had no experience as a head coach at all.
What made the Ditka hire so progressive was the fact that he wasn’t a candidate for any of the openings that season. Halas chose Ditka despite pressure from close associates to give the job to George Allen, who had made a one-hour telephone pitch to Halas applying for the position. Ted Marchibroda, Chicago’s offensive coordinator at the time, was also a candidate, as was Ryan. Halas loved Ryan but didn’t think he was ready to be a head coach.