Four downs with Ditka

Written By BY MIKE DITKA Posted: 07/27/2014, 02:31am
Array Chicago Bears' Walter Payton runs with the ball Sunday Jan. 27, 1986 during Super Bowl XX in New Orleans. The Bears defeated the New England Patriots 46-10 to win Super Bowl XX. (AP Photo/Red McLendon)

What’s the No. 1 thing coach Marc Trestman has to establish in Bears training camp this season?

Marc realized that they needed help on defense, and they went out and fixed that in the offseason. You can’t win in this league today unless you play defense, especially pass coverage. You have to be good in the secondary, you have to be able to cover and you have to be able to tackle. They weren’t good in that area last year; in fact, they were bad. And it put all the pressure on their offense to carry them. What they have done through the draft and bringing in Jared Allen will bring a lot of energy to the defense. I realize they’re in a division with Green Bay and Detroit, but I think the Bears have put themselves in a real good position to win the division.

Who is the key player for the Bears this season?

It’s gotta be Jay Cutler. He has to assume the role of leadership on this football team. He’s gotta be the guy in control, he’s gotta be the guy the rest of the team wants to follow, and they have to get behind him and support him. His talent is good enough, but talent can’t take you where leadership can. If he does that, there’s no telling how good he can be.

Do you think Tony Dungy handled the Michael Sam controversy the right way?

Tony Dungy is a great guy. He’s a terrific Christian gentleman. He didn’t mean what people assumed he meant. He made a simple statement. He said if he were coaching today, he wouldn’t have taken the risk. There’s nothing wrong with what he said. But when the media jumps all over it, then it looks like he’s prejudiced or biased or anti-gay or everything else. That’s not fair to Tony. All he made was a simple statement. If he were coaching today, he would not have made that choice. Does it make him right? No. Does it make him a bad guy? No. It doesn’t make him right, wrong or otherwise. It just entitles him to that opinion. Now, when the media takes it and spins it, they are wrong. Let me tell you, there is no better guy in the NFL than Tony Dungy. He didn’t mean it that way.

Walter Payton would have turned 60 on Friday. Your thoughts?

I remember coaching with the Cowboys and watching the film and saying to coach Landry: ‘‘Offensively, we can play with these guys, but we have to find a way to stop No. 34. This guy is as good a football player as I have ever seen.’’ In saying that, I’ll say this: He was a better football player than anyone I have ever seen, and he’s a better person than anyone could imagine him to be. He was a sweetheart of a guy, a leader, a guy you gravitated to. You just had to love the guy for what he did. He went way too soon. It’s really a shame. He had so much to give. He could have been a great mentor to some of these young players in the league today. He handled greatness the way you’re supposed to. A lot of these guys aren’t too good at handling greatness or adversity these days.

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