Due to the infamous 1985 Bears team that was full of moxie and swagger, most fans will always remember Iron Mike for his fiery coaching style and not his prowess at the tight end position. With 722 wins in the regular season and postseason combined, Chicago football has never been short on success. However, the last time that the Bears were awarded the Lombardi Trophy, Ditka was the head coach.
As a player Ditka was a trendsetter to say the least. Nowadays we see tight ends and think Tony Gonzalez and Rob Gronkowski, but those kind of players didn’t exist before Ditka stepped on the gridiron.
In fact, Ditka was primarily used as a blocker, yet he hauled in 43 touchdowns during his 12 year career. His best years undoubtedly came as a Bear, despite a few seasons with the Dallas Cowboys — 4,503 of his 5,812 receiving yards were earned while dawning the blue and orange of the Windy City.
Oddly enough, the no. 89 never stuck in Chicago considering the number has been fielded by 12 different players since Ditka and none of them were selected to a single Pro Bowl with the club. The Bears may be running into a problem here as the retired numbers keep piling up. 53 players are always on the active roster, eight stay on the practice squad, and now that 14 are retired that means 75 of the available 99 numbers are taken.
Ditka’s jersey will be hanging at Soldier Field for quite some time, but the future Bears players are going to be hamstrung when it comes to picking a number.