Mike Ditka life and biography

Mike Ditka picture, image, poster

Mike Ditka biography

Date of birth : 1939-10-18
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Carnegie, Pennsylvania
Nationality : American
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2011-01-25
Credited as : Former football player NFL, tv commentator and coach, coach for the Chicago Bears

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Michael Keller Ditka, Jr. also known as Iron Mike Ditka or Da Coach, is a former American football NFL player, television commentator, and coach. Ditka coached the Chicago Bears for 11 years. Ditka and Tom Flores are the only two people to win Super Bowls as a player, an assistant coach and a head coach; and was the only individual to participate in two Chicago Bears' championships, as a player in 1963 and as head coach in 1985. He has a brother named Ashton.

Early life and college career
Mike's childhood name was Mike Dyzcko. His father was one of three brothers of a Ukrainian family in the coal mining and steel manufacturing area in Western Pennsylvania. The name Dyzcko was too much of a tongue-twister in Carnegie, PA., where Mike was born on October 18, 1939, so the family name was changed to Ditka. Mike Ditka page on ChicagoBears.com in the Pittsburgh area town of Carnegie, Pennsylvania and grew up in nearby Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. In elementary school, he was enrolled at St. Titus School, located on Sycamore Street in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.

A three sport star at Aliquippa High School, he was recruited by Notre Dame, Penn State, and Pitt. The Aliquippa High team doctor, Dr. John L. Miller had taken him to Pitt games and encouraged him to attend Pitt. Ditka played for the University of Pittsburgh from 1958-1960, where he also became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He started all 3 seasons and is widely considered one of the best tight ends in college football history. In addition to playing tight end, he also served as the team's punter. He led the team in receiving in all three of his seasons with them and was a first team selection on the College Football All-America Team in his senior year. In 1986, he was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Ditka would also become the first of many athletes from Aliquippa or adjacent Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania (which uses an Aliquippa mailing address) to have success in the NFL. Other notable Aliquippa/Hopewell natives that followed Ditka into the NFL include Tony Dorsett, Sean Gilbert, and Ty Law. Current New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, Buffalo Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny, and free agent cornerback Josh Lay also hail from the area.

NFL career
The Bears drafted Ditka in the 1961 NFL Draft. His presence was immediately felt. In his first season, Ditka had 56 receptions, introducing a new dimension to a tight end position that had previously been dedicated to blocking. 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. He played on the 1963 NFL championship team. 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. Ditka was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1967, where he spent two seasons, before being shipped off to the Dallas Cowboys in 1969. 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.

In 1988, his fearsome blocking and 427 career receptions for 5,812 yards and 43 touchdowns earned him the honor of being the first tight-end ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ditka also scored 2 touchdowns on offensive fumble recoveries, tying 7 other players for the most in NFL history. In 1999, he was ranked number 90 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.

Coaching career
Retiring after the 1972 season, Ditka was immediately hired as an assistant coach by Cowboys' head coach Tom Landry. Ditka spent nine seasons as an assistant coach with the Cowboys. During his tenure, the Cowboys made the playoffs eight times, won six division titles and three NFC Championships, including the one preceding their Super Bowl victory in 1977.

The Chicago Bears NFL
In 1982, Chicago Bears founder George Halas personally sought out Ditka to take over the head coaching reins, and reverse what had been a mostly dreary performance by the team in the years since Halas retired as head coach. Reversing the Bears' pitiful record of only two winning seasons in the previous nineteen, Ditka led the Bears to six NFC Central titles and three trips to the NFC Championship. Ditka's coaching career hit its pinnacle in January 1986 with a 46-10 trouncing of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. Football commentators widely regard the 1985 Bears defense as one of the best ever, which was masterminded by defensive coordinator, Buddy Ryan, with little oversight from Ditka. In an unusual gesture, following the Bears Super Bowl victory, Ryan, as well as Ditka, was carried off the field by team members. He said that his greatest regret about that Super Bowl was not calling a running play for Walter Payton to score a touchdown. In addition, the 1985 Chicago Bears are one of the few teams who consistently challenge the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins for the unofficial title of the "Greatest NFL Team of All-Time." The NFL Network "America's Game" rated the 1985 Bears as the second best super bowl champion ever.

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 finished each year with either the best or second best record in the NFC. However, all three teams lost in the playoffs at home. 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.

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 wildcard in 1991, but were eliminated convincingly in the early rounds. After dropping to 5-11 in the 1992 season, the Bears fired Ditka.

He was awarded NFL Coach of the Year honors in 1985 and 1988 by the Associated Press, The Sporting News, and Pro Football Weekly.

The New Orleans Saints NFL
In 1997, he returned to coach the New Orleans Saints, which he refers to as the "three worst years" of his life. 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 in order to move up in the draft and select Texas RB Ricky Williams. The trade was further mocked because of a magazine cover in which Ditka posed with Williams, who was wearing a wedding dress. Over a total of 14 seasons as a head coach, Ditka amassed a regular season record of 121-95-0 and a postseason record of 6-6.

Broadcaster
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. From the 2000 to the 2001 season he was a studio analyst on The NFL Today on CBS Sports. He is currently a commentator on ESPN's NFL Live 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 Mark 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.http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/mccarthy/2007-06-19-mccarthy-espn_N.htm The "three Mikes" make up ESPN's second MNF broadcasting team; the first team consists of Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, and Tony Kornheiser.

Ultimate Fantasy Football League
In 2007, Mike Ditka was announced as the Commissioner of the newly founded Ultimate Fantasy Football League (UFFL). The UFFL will award $250,000, the largest prize purse ever given out in Fantasy Football. Every week for 17 weeks the UFFL will pay out combined $6,000 among the top 200 teams in the world, and further, gives the player an opportunity to play in the UFFL's Ultimate Bowl, where the UFFL will crown the first World's Fantasy Football Champion and award $100,000 to the winner.

However, on September 6th, 2007, it was announced on the UFFL's website that due to financial constraints, the 2007 UFFL season would not take place.


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