By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) At halftime of Monday night’s game between the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys, former player and coach Mike Ditka had his number 89 retired by the Bears in a ceremony that featured the Hall of Famer in obvious discomfort because he was standing in a wind chill of 2 degrees pandering to the basest of meatball fans who think watching a game in uncomfortable conditions is noble or something.
It was a great moment for Ditka, who then abandoned the thousands of “Chicago tough” at Soldier Field for the warmth of a bottle of wine and a cigar at his restaurant for the second half. But it’s just one of several great Ditka moments. And while a lot of focus was on some more popular clips of Ditka the player and Ditka the coach, I feel much of the true Ditka was not highlighted enough Monday. So I put together an annotated list of some other great moments in the history of Da Coach that may have been overlooked.
The Grabowski Shuffle
The 1985 Bears created “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” which was a smash hit and to this day is one of the most well-known sports songs ever. Ditka was not involved in that, but damn if he wouldn’t be outdone. Enter “The Grabowski Shuffle,” taking the persona of a blue collar stereotype of Chicagoans, boiling it into an oh-so-Ditka sound bite—“There are Smiths and there are Grabowskis; we’re the Grabowskis”—and then making a really band song and music video out of it. And as proceeds from “The Super Bowl Shuffle” went to charity, “The Grabowski Shuffle” was a for-profit venture, with Ditka supposedly getting $10,000 a day and a cut of the profits from video sales, which weren’t much (though I can’t understand why).
Bears ask Ditka not to be a hypocrite
“I still think there is a place for asking for a total commitment to the team,” said then-team president Michael McCaskey in 1989, “and when the head coach says that to his players . . . it is easier if he has the position and even the perception in everybody`s eyes of being similarly committed.”
McCaskey was referring to Ditka’s abundance of endorsement deals and how Da Coach was becoming bigger than Da Team. It’s doubtful Ditka was receptive to this suggestion.
Ditka gets trolled hard
In the pantheon of 670 The Score callers, several names are household for dedicated listeners. Patio Steve. Wild Bill. Ten Foot Assclown. But none has baited and hooked a sports figure on air quite like Neil from Northlake did with Ditka 21 years ago. Trolling has become synonymous with the Internet and social media, especially when it comes to attempting to gain pleasure from riling up sports figures, but Neil was a true pre-web pioneer, and for getting Ditka to challenge him to a fight on the air (and for giving us “Warshington”), we are forever in the debt of Neil from Northlake.
Precedent set for bad Wrigley Seventh Inning Stretch performers
Getting celebrities to sing The Stretch at Cubs games was cute for a little while. Now it’s mostly tragic. The avalanche of crappy performances over the years was touched off by this one from Ditka, who was running late because he must have been endorsing his new line of referee casual wear.
The rendition of Harry Caray’s shtick was looked on then and still today as humorous by many, but most fail to consider that Ditka was late for THE SEVENTH INNING of a game and put Chip Caray and Steve Stone and likely some poor behind-the-scenes folks in a panicky predicament for a short time. Not to mention the thousands expecting to see Ditka do his Chicago Pope thing from the booth and bless the drunks and wave and ultimately not care about them. In typical meatball fashion, Ditka was and still is cheered for this.
Ditka knocks over table, Paul Hornung knocks over Ditka
Ditka got roasted once, probably for money, and it was a drunk fest. Like Jim-McMahon-peed-in-a-cooler-on-stage drunk fest. Ditka knocked over a table, and then Hornung apparently forgot that Ditka no longer possesses ball-and-socket joints and that Iron Mike crumples in a stiff breeze. Old people falling down will never not be funny. Old people falling down beneath a sign bearing their caricature is the best thing ever.
Impotence clinic Ditka shilled for closes and goesh to court
Ditka has done approximately 47,000 endorsements in his career. I don’t begrudge him the right to make a buck—it would just be nice if people appreciated the irony of him supposedly being some Everyman (or that he’s a hypocrite). Maybe no Ditka venture encapsulates all his shamelessness better than a clinic for erectile dysfunction that seems to have not been on the up and up.
Ditka becomes self-aware
I mock, but for all his faults, at least Ditka seems to get that he’s a parody of himself that gets to profit from it. “I can tell you honestly, probably the best thing that can happen is when you stop taking yourself so damn serious,” he recently said. “And I quit. I don’t take myself serious.”
Good for you, Coach. Neither do we.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa before earning his degree from Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). Got a comment for Tim? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @TimBaffoe , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.