Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 89 Days with Mike Ditka

Chicago Bears
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Chicago Bears, Mike Ditka
Chicago Bears, Mike Ditka / David Boss-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Ditka's path back to the Chicago Bears as head coach

After his two-year stint with the Eagles, Ditka joined the division rival Dallas Cowboys, where he played the final four seasons of his career, eventually retiring after the 1972 season. Following playing for the Cowboys, Ditka was hired by coach Tom Landry as an assistant coach, where he would spend time coaching the tight ends group as well as coordinating the special teams unit.

As a Cowboys assistant, Ditka wrote a letter to Bears owner George Halas, detailing his regrets about how his Bears career ended, and the fact that Ditka would be interested in coming back to the franchise as a head coach. Many years later in 1982, Halas, who had just fired his head coach, took Ditka up on his previous offer and hired the former tight end as the team's new head coach.

Just a few years later Ditka had completely rehauled the Chicago Bears team, taking them from a bottom-of-the-league roster into a perennial powerhouse. In 1985, Ditka led the team to a 15-1 roster, eventually winning the Super Bowl and was named NFL Coach of the Year.