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National Analyst Mike Ditka Doesn't Have to Be a Bears Fan

Does Mike Ditka's reputation as a Bears icon color others' opinion of him as a national analyst?

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The title is blatantly obvious. Mike Ditka is an analyst for ESPN and their professional football coverage (in between LeBron James highlights). The reason he got to be an ESPN analyst is because as da founder of all things fire an' passion, he lead one of the most iconic teams in NFL history, the Bears, to their one and only Super Bowl title (amidst the other NFL league championships) in 1985, in addition to having his own Hall of Fame career as a revolutionary tight end. Said analyst's professional number is all set to be retired by said Bears in 2013.

Which is all well and good. Immortalizing a Hall of Fame player's career with the team he's most strongly associated with isn't a bad thing.

Except when it opens up to nuttiness such as what I rolled my eyes at earlier.

Mike Ditka, Chicago Bears icon, dared have the audacity to claim Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers as the best quarterback in football.

That's not such an outrageous opinion. I'm a writer here, and I think that Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, if not the best. Big whoopty-do.

Except, if you look at the article I linked above, it's written under the "Bears" header of CSN Chicago, and filed under "Bears" at Pro Football Talk.

What does it have to do with the Bears aside from a guy who's last bit of working for the Bears occurred in the 1980's making the comment? Nothing, aside from the Packers being a division rival.

But if you're trying to kickstart the 2013 edition of the rivalry as Mark Strotman put it in the linked article...

It's never too early to get the oldest rivalry in the NFL going, and Mike Ditka may have done just that with his comments to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Somehow, I can think of far more effective ways to do that than complimenting said rival's quarterback. If you're Ditka, and that's your goal, you praise Jay Cutler, claim he's the best quarterback in Packers/Bears history, scream something about the fire and passion and leave Packers and Bears fans frothing at the mouth for two months.

But by complimenting the Packers' quarterback, he's being a professional football analyst. He's allowed to have those types of opinions.

Yes, Ditka to a degree invites this because of his wearing a Bears sweatervest on Monday Night Football broadcasts, loudly proclaiming "Da Bears" as his pick when the Bears play that game, and his accomplishments identify himself as a Bears icon forever and a magnet for Ditka-worshippers everywhere. But that doesn't mean he always has to be that guy. So when he does have legitimate football opinions, I can't wait for the day when Ditka having an opinion complimenting a Bears' rival isn't news.

Mike Ditka is a professional national analyst. Not every thought he has needs to be put out specifically to Bears fans.