If you trace the head coaching lineage of the Chicago Bears' franchise all the way back to the Decatur Staleys in 1920, there have been 15 men that have held the title of head coach. Some of those men were more successful than others and some were outshined in the popularity department by members of their own coaching staff.
For the next question in our 30 Day Challenge, we're not asking who the best coach in franchise history is, but rather...
Day 12: Who is your all time favorite Chicago Bears coach?
We also aren't limiting your choices to the 15 head coaches in franchise history, so feel free to throw in a Mel Tucker, John Shoop, Terry Shea or Aaron Kromer if you feel so inclined.
My favorite coach in franchise history is the first coach I ever associated with the Bears, Mike Ditka. I vaguely remember the Neill Armstrong years, but when Ditka took over I remember that being a really big deal. Add in the fact the he coached the team to their only Super Bowl victory and he's clearly #1 for me.
He may not be known for his Xs & Os, but I loved Ditka's passion and fire. He understood the history of the franchise and the importance of Chicago's place in the NFL. I appreciated his disgust with the other teams in the NFC Central, especially his feelings towards the rival Green Bay Packers.
Ditka took things personally and I'll never forget him using 320 pound defensive tackle William Perry as a running back for the first time. Ditka inserted Perry at running back in 1985 as a way to get back at San Francisco head coach Bill Walsh, who used 275 pound offensive guard Guy McIntyre in the offensive backfield during the 23-0 49er playoff win against the Bears in 1984.
Everyone remembers the Monday Night game against the Packers when William "The Refrigerator" Perry leveled Green Bay linebacker George Cumby on two separate occasions, leading to Walter Payton touchdowns. And who can forget the rushing TD from The Fridge in that game. But it was the week prior against the Niners, when Ditka played Perry in the backfield for the first time during the Bears 26-10 victory, just to get some revenge.
I know Ditka is blamed by some for never winning another championship, but I'd say injuries and free agency had just as much to do with that. Some also suggest that defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan was the true leader on that coaching staff, and with the way Ryan was carried off the field alongside Ditka at SBXX, it's tough to argue.
Maybe I just got caught up in the hype back in the 80s, but Ditka has always been a favorite of mine.
Now it's your turn. Who is your favorite Bears coach of all time?
Here are all of our Challenges so far...
Day 1: Earliest Chicago Bears Memory
Day 2: Favorite Bears Memory
Day 3: All Time favorite Bears Wide Receiver
Day 4: Favorite Place to Watch the Bears
Day 5: Least Favorite Bear of All Time
Day 6: All Time favorite Bears quarterback
Day 7: If the Bears could retire one more number...
Day 8: All Time Favorite Bears Running Back
Day 9: All Time Favorite Bears Tight End
Day 10: If you could take 1 historical Bear...
Day 11: All Time Favorite Bears Special Teamer