Chicago Bears Had the Original Pass Catching Tight End


It’s appropriate to comment today after a weekend of highlights from the league’s top tight ends and Brad Biggs’ Tight End Analysis piece in today’s Tribune: the Bears need a pass catching tight end.  And don’t give me the “we had one in Greg Olsen” lines, because on his best day, Olsen wasn’t at the level of Gronkowski, Graham or Vernon Davis.  Tight ends are changing the game by creating mismatches with a combination of size and speed that makes them hard to defend.  Hopefully with Mike Martz retiring, the Bears will be able to address the problem.

The Bears were actually way ahead of their time as they had one of the most explosive tight ends of his era when Mike Ditka took the league by storm as a rookie in 1961.  As a rookie, Ditka led all tight ends with 56 receptions for 1076 yards and 12 touchdowns.  His stats had him 4th in the league in yardage, 5th in the league in receptions and 2nd in the league in touchdowns.

Here are some highlights of Ditka, ranked the #59 player of all time by NFL Films.

By the 1963 season, Ditka leading the Bears in receiving, was leading the Bears to the NFL Championship.  Could a modern pass catching tight end the like of Ditka do the same for the Bears in 2012?