In 14 games, Ditka pulled in 1076 yards on 56 catches for an average of nearly 20 yards per catch while scoring 12 TD’s. How good were those stats? They were good enough to have Ditka ranked 5th among ALL pass catchers in the 1961 season. And that was just in his rookie year. Ditka was Jimmy Graham before Jimmy Graham.
Over his six seasons with the Bears, Ditka started 70 games and caught 316 passes for 4500 yards with 34 touchdowns. For his career, Ditka appeared in 158 games and had 427 catches for 5800 yards and 43 touchdowns. It was a career that led him to be the first tight end ever to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
Ditka was named to five Pro Bowls from ’61 – ’65 and named an All Pro those same years. He helped lead the Bears to a championship in 1963 and went on to help the Cowboys win Super Bowl VI. That’s why Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach presented him for the NFL’s Top 100 players of all time, which Ditka was named #59.
Perhaps it was those leadership qualities that led Ditka to move to the next phase of his career, Mike Ditka: The Coach.