Here’s a look at the life of Hall of Fame football player and coach Mike Ditka.
Birth date: October 18, 1939
Birth place: Carnegie, Pennsylvania
Birth name: Michael Keller Dyczko Jr.
Father: Michael Ditka Sr., steel mill worker and railroad union organizer
Mother: Charlotte (Keller) Ditka
Marriages: Diana (Trantham) Ditka (July 8, 1977-present); Margery Dougherty (January 28, 1961-September 21, 1973, divorced)
Children: with Margery Dougherty: Michael III, Mark, Megan and Matthew
Education: Attended the University of Pittsburgh, 1958-1960
Surname was changed from Dyczko to Ditka when he was young.
Nicknamed “Iron Mike,” “Da Coach” and “The Hammer.”
Five-time Pro Bowl player (1961-1965 seasons).
NFL tight end with the Chicago Bears (1961-1966 seasons), the Philadelphia Eagles (1967-1968 seasons) and the Dallas Cowboys (1969-1972 seasons).
NFL head coach of the Chicago Bears (1982-1992 seasons) and the New Orleans Saints (1997-1999 seasons).
One of only two coaches to win the Super Bowl as a player (1971 season), assistant coach (1977 season) and head coach (1985 season). Tom Flores is the other.
Was part-owner of the Arena Football team, the Chicago Rush.
Owner of the restaurant chain Ditka’s.
President of the nonprofit Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, which assists retired NFL players medically and financially.
1961 - Selected first round, fifth overall by the Chicago Bears in the NFL Draft; and also selected first round, eighth overall by the Houston Oilers in the AFL Draft. (At the time, the AFL and NFL had separate drafts). Ditka signs with the Bears for $12,000 plus a $6,000 bonus.
December 1961 - Named NFL Rookie of the Year.
December 29, 1963 - Ditka and the Chicago Bears defeat the New York Giants in the NFL championship game, 14-10.
April 26, 1967 - Traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.
January 27, 1969 - Traded to the Dallas Cowboys.
January 16, 1972 - Catches a 7-yard touchdown pass in the Dallas Cowboys’ victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI, 24-3.
1973 - Retires as a player and becomes an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys.
January 15, 1978 - Assistant coach when the Dallas Cowboys defeat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII, 27-10.
1982-January 5, 1993 - Head coach of the Chicago Bears, until he is fired following a 5-11 season.
October 14, 1985 - Arrested near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. He is later convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, fined $300 and ordered to attend alcohol abuse classes.
January 26, 1986 - Coaches the Chicago Bears to a 46-10 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.
1986 - Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
July 30, 1988 - First tight end inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
November 1988 - Suffers a minor heart attack.
1989 - Founds the Mike Ditka Foundation, which raises money for pediatric AIDS research and Misericordia, a Chicago-based organization supporting individuals with developmental disabilities.
1993 - Becomes an NFL studio analyst with NBC.
1997-2000 - Head coach of the New Orleans Saints until he is fired in January 2000.
2000 - Becomes an NFL studio analyst with CBS.
2004-present - Football analyst with ESPN.
July 2004 - After being approached by a group of Illinois Republicans, announces that he has decided not to run for the open US Senate seat in Illinois.
2011 - Invests in the Elite Football League of India, originally comprised of eight teams from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka playing American-style football.
November 16, 2012 - Suffers a minor stroke.
May 24, 2013 - The Chicago Bears announce the upcoming retirement of Ditka’s number 89, and that it will be the last number they retire. The ceremony takes place on December 9, 2013, during halftime at their game against the Dallas Cowboys.
October 9, 2017 - During a radio interview, regarding NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice, Ditka says, “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody – race, religion, creed, color, nationality. If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort in, I think you can accomplish anything.” He apologizes the next day in a statement, clarifying, “I have absolutely seen oppression in society in the last 100 years and I am completely intolerant of any discrimination. The interview was about the NFL and the related issues.”
November 24, 2018 - Ditka’s agent Steve Mandell tells ESPN that Ditka is recovering after suffering a mild heart attack earlier in the week, and that doctors inserted a pacemaker.
July 26, 2020 - In an interview with TMZ Sports, when asked about athletes who kneel during the national anthem, Ditka says, “If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country. That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old- fashioned. So, I’m only going to say what I feel.”