“Retiring” from the game to become a NFL analyst doesn’t mean you slow down. At least not for Pro Football Hall of Famer, Mike Ditka.
“I’m leaving tomorrow to go up there (ESPN) to do something on Coach Lombardi, “ said Ditka when asked what he does in his “off time.” “I try to play golf, and I use that term literally. I try. But I play golf and I travel a lot. I do some speaking and travel,” he added.
When asked about Danny Wuerffel, his 4th round selection in the 1997 NFL draft, there was no hesitation. “Winner, character, outstanding citizen, leader, when you have those characteristics and the character that young man had, you can survive anything, you can handle any situation,” Ditka said. “In life, you chart your course and you sail it. His course is a faith driven course and based on his beliefs, he’s sailing it. And the example that he sets by the way he leads his life is the important thing. None of the other stuff is important. He’s real. He’s the real thing.”
Serving as a National Voter for the Wuerffel Trophy is an honor that Coach Ditka takes very seriously. “When you look at the candidates for the Wuerffel (Trophy), it’s really interesting reading. You say, ‘I know this guy because he plays football, but I had no idea he was doing this in the community.’ It’s pretty impressive.”
When asked if you see some impressive credentials of these young men, he replied, “Yea, you really do, and you look through and say ‘can this guy really do all this stuff?‘ And they do, because they’re like Danny, they want to make a difference and they do make a difference in other people’s lives.”
And on December 9th, on a Monday night game against the Dallas Cowboys, Ditka will have his number retired by the Bears, the 14th Bear in history, and has been announced, will be the last number to be retired by the organization. “It’s a great honor really, it would have had no bearing on my career, I enjoyed every moment I had with the Bears. But, it’s really a great honor when you consider the great players that have had their numbers retired, “said the coach.