Mike Ditka is a man known for his passion for the game of football. His outspoken, fiery attitude and brutal honesty have made him what he is today: a household name in the world of sports. When the Chicago Bears retired the icon’s number, 89, at Soldier Field on Monday, it was a great way to pay tribute to a storied career. The honor mostly revolves around his contributions as a player, but a lot people got to know Ditka as the head coach behind the legendary 1985 Bears team that is still considered by many to be one of the greatest National Football League teams of all time.
Ditka’s accomplishments are not modest by any means. Drafted fifth overall by Chicago in the 1961 NFL draft, he immediately redefined the tight end position by catching 58 passes and scoring 12 touchdowns as a rookie. In a role that was normally used for blocking, his style of play allowed him to be a groundbreaking receiver who notched five Pro Bowl selections. In fact, he’s on the Bears’ all-time receiving list, ranking first among tight ends and fourth overall with 4,503 yards. Throughout an 11-year playing career and 14 seasons as a head coach, Ditka has won some of the most important games in NFL history.
Here are four that rank among the greatest.