With Richard Dent's pending induction into the Hall of Fame (damn, it feels good to say "pending induction" instead of "
Follow me past the jump for some profile highlights and discussion of Ditka.
Veteran observers agreed that Mike Ditka might have been outstanding as a linebacker, defensive end, fullback or perhaps even on the offensive line in pro football.
Anybody else able to imagine a young Ditka staring over a down lineman into a quarterback's eyes, destroying his soul? Doubt we'd be hearing much about Singletary's glare.
During his first six seasons, Ditka was one of the most feared individuals in the NFL. Nobody blocked better. Few receivers caught as many passes. Once he got the ball, he could go places with it. he had a fantastic straight-arm move that fended off would be tacklers. He worked every second he was on the field, knocked down defenders and outran the best and speediest secondary men Sunday after Sunday.
Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Bill George remarked: "He is the best rookie I have ever seen. Ten more like him and there would be no room for me on the team."
In his first exhibition game, he caught a button-hook pass for 12 yards. In the huddle, quarterback Billy Wade instructed him: "Fake the hook now and take off when the safety man crowds you." The result was a 70-yard catch and run for a touchdown.
"That play," Mike remembers, "gave me confidence to be a pro. I knew it wasn't impossible for me to outrun those guys."
This sequence shows his amazing versatility...
Earlier in the season, he caught four touchdown passes against the rams [sic] and contributed a sensational 22-yard scoring catch that clinched a win over the Detroit Lions in the season finale. His crushing block cleared out the final defender as Ron Bull raced to teh only touchdown in a 10-3 win over the Baltimore Colts. Against Pittsburgh, he fought off half a dozen tacklers after catching a short pass and raced 63 yards to set up a tying field goal.
Got any more stories or notes from Ditka's career you'd like to share? See anything else in the article you like? Sound off and discuss!