Ditka was a member of the Cowboys coaching staff from 1973 – 1981, winning a ring as an assistant in Super Bowl XII. Ditka eventually become the Cowboys’ special teams coordinator, but he had higher aspirations. Ditka wrote a letter to Chicago Bears founding father George Halas, telling Papa Bear that he wanted to become the Bears head coach when he was ready. Following the 1982 season, Halas took Ditka up on the offer, making him the tenth head coach in Chicago Bears history.
It wasn’t an immediate trip to the Super Bowl for the Ditka-led Bears, but he had a plan. Ditka called a team meeting shortly after being hired. “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.” Ditka was true to his word and gave us the 1985 Bears, where legends were made on and off the field.
It wasn’t all seashells and balloons for Ditka and the ’85 Bears. Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan were at odds from Day 1 of Ditka’s tenure. Even though Buddy’s defense was seen as the catalyst to that Bears Super Bowl team, don’t underestimate the importance of Ditka to manage the big personalities and characters on that ’85 team. It was Ditka’s leadership that kept this wild bunch focused on a title. Following the Bears win of Super Bowl XX, Ditka wasn’t humble about his team:
Can you imagine a head coach giving a presser like that in this era?