Mike Ditka discusses the Bears’ GM and coach search, Virginia McCaskey’s ire and a night out with two other Mikes.
1. How vital is that the Bears get a GM first, then a coach. And how important is the relationship between the two?
It’s very important, and the two have to work together. You have to have the same goal; understand what you want to do; agree on how to build your football team; how to draft and who to trade and who you’re going to tie your money up with. So, it’s tremendously important to have the general manager on the same page with the coach.
2. Chicago has been tough on a lot of coaches — football and otherwise. What type of personality does it take to coach in Chicago?
Everyone has a different personality. The Bulls when they won, [Phil Jackson] had good players, so he was a good coach. I had good players, so I was a good coach when I won. It’s not too complicated. I don’t care how good a coach you are, you’re not going to win unless you have good players. The system — how you draft, how you trade, how you bring people in — that’s the key. Everyone has a system and understands how to attack defenses. That’s not complicated. But you have to have the right people to do it, and they have to have the right attitude. That’s what we had. A lot of them were in place when I got there, so it wasn’t like I had to re-invent the wheel.
3. You have a long relationship with the McCaskeys. When George talked about Virginia McCaskey being “pissed off,” what went through your mind?
Well, I think she should be mad because it was her father who started the National Football League. And what do we have — two championships, one in ’63 and one in ’85. We’re coming up on almost 30 years. That’s a long time. You could say we had a lot of bad luck, or this or that. But I don’t blame her because her father wouldn’t tolerate it. It bothers her and it should bother her.
Chicago is a great sports town. They’re not hard on you if you’re good. If you’re the Blackhawks, or the Bulls and the Bears when we were winning, it’s the greatest sports town in the world. I don’t want to hear about how tough it is. You’re tough on yourself because you’re not getting the job done.
4. There’s a new book out that talks about a dinner in the late 1980s where Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan and you were present. The book says Tyson nearly got into an altercation with Jordan over an old acquaintance. What was that like?
I think it was in my restaurant, but I’m not positive. It’s silly. Michael Jordan is not going to get into an altercation with anyone. He’s a class guy. First of all, the greatest, stupidest thing in the world is alcohol. When you drink, you get that mouth running sometimes. That’s probably what happened.