clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bears will retire Mike Ditka's No. 89 on Dec. 9

New, comment

Mike Ditka will become the 14th Chicago Bear to have his number retired, as the team looks to make amends with their legendary coach and five-time Pro Bowl tight end.

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Mike Ditka's playing days are less well-known than his coaching days, but the Chicago Bears will retire the No. 89 jersey he wore with the team as a tight end during the 1960's, per

Ditka, who became a mustached, sunglasses-wearing folk hero in Chicago for coaching the 1985 Bears to a Super Bowl, hasn't been on the best of terms with the team since being fired in 1992. But they appear interested in making amends with the Hall of Famer, beginning with the ceremony scheduled to be held during a Monday Night Football game against the Cowboys -- where Ditka also played and began his coaching career -- on Dec. 9.

They've chosen to do it by honoring his on-field career, although some have forgotten that the 73-year-old ESPN commentator was quite the player in his time: the fifth overall pick by Chicago in 1961, and would make the Pro Bowl each of his first five years with the team. He'd be a contributor on the 1963 team that won the NFL Championship, the team's last title before he coached them to one 22 years later. They'd trade him away in 1966 before bringing him back in 1982 as a coach. He'd have a .631 winning percentage over 11 years, winning 106 games.

No player currently wears No. 89 for the Bears. Thirteen other numbers are retired, including legends Bronko Nagurski, George Halas, Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, and Dick Butkus. Mike Singletary's number had remained out of usage from the time of his retirement until this upcoming season, when Singletary told linebacker James Anderson he could wear it.

More from SB Nation:

The great Super Bowl stadium swindle

Hakeem Nicks reportedly wants a new deal

How will 49ers respond to Crabtree's injury?

Landry Jones on Christianity and gay athletes

NFL rookies review 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

NFL rookies step outside the playbook