Each week throughout the NFL season, the Chicago Sun-Times chats with former Bears coach Mike Ditka on four topics. His thoughts:
1. You were not a fan of the longer extra-point change before the season. Where do you stand on it now?
For a hundred years we kicked the ball from the 2-yard line. Does it have an effect on the game? Absolutely. How many games have we already seen this year that were lost by missing an extra point? There’s no question it has an impact. It’s not automatic anymore. If that’s what the league wants to do, then fine. My point is, if you played the game the same way for a hundred years one way, what’s the point in changing it now? Why? Are they suddenly going to give you five downs? I really don’t have a problem with it one way or the other, but when you see the number being missed, it really does have an impact.
2. For the first time in NFL history, four teams are 7-0 to start the season. Your thoughts?
Last week you had two undefeated teams play in Denver and Green Bay, and Denver throttled them. When you look at what Denver is doing, it’s amazing. The Panthers got out of jail last night [coming back to win in OT]. Ron [Rivera] is a good coach and they’re a good team. It just seems there’s not a lot of defense being played. We saw a team score 49 points the other day and LOSE! New England has been unbelievable. They don’t have a lot of household names outside of [Tom] Brady and [Rob] Gronkowski. But they make great use of Gronkowski by getting him into mismatches. Same for the Panthers and Greg Olsen.
3. The Bears play this Monday. What was special to you about playing on Monday Night Football?
It’s really an honor. The whole world is watching you. There’s no other game. It’s not like the fans have a chance to watch 14 other games. To me, it was still a just a game. I didn’t look at it any differently as I would on playing Saturday afternoon or Sunday or Thursday or any other day. Take away the fact that the whole world is your audience, and you still have to play football. Still have to go out there and do the things that give you the best chance to win. Not that it’s not an honor to be on Monday night, but I think if you asked most coaches they’d rather play all their games on Sunday because it’s a routine you get into.
Mike Ditka on wearing Packers sweater
Share Events on The Cube4. You recently made a commercial in which you wear a Packers sweater. Did you have a hard time putting it on?
I had no problem at all putting it on. It’s a commercial. I thought it was kinda funny and and kinda cute. Frankly, if people were offended by that, then get a life. Com’on. It’s no big deal.
I would say that I’ve been honestly more loyal to the Bears than they’ve been to me, so I don’t think I have to apologize anybody if I dress up in a Packers sweater or Detroit Lions sweater or Minnesota Vikings sweater. I will not apologize to anyone for that.
I think when you look at loyalty, it’s a two-way street. But this had nothing to do with anything. Iw as a commercial. They came to me and said will you make the commercial, will you do it this way.
You got Jerry Rice who is one of the greatest football players ever in San Francisco history, and he’s in all the Cowboys gear. He’s got the Cowboys jersey and the Cowboys hat, and there’s another commercial coming out where we’ll both be together.
Look, I played six years for the Bears; I played two years with Philadelphia; I played four years with the Cowboys. I coached 10 years with the Cowboys as an assistant coach.
You’re asking me where my loyalties are?
You know, I came back to [the Bears] be the head coach, only because the man who started the Bears hired me. Only because of that. That’s the only reason. He’s the only one who would have done it, was George Halas.
I think we had a relative, good amount of success in Chicago.
Then all of a sudden we had other people who made their decisions based on whatever they make their decisions on, and they decided … And, that’s fine! I accepted that. I moved on.
If you’re asking me, do I have all my allegiance? Yeah, I owe my allegiance to George Halas’ Chicago Bears. There’s no question about that. That’s who I have my allegiance to right now. Nobody else, really. Nobody in the front office up there now. I have no obligation to anybody up there except to Mr. Halas, who hired me, who coached me, who was my mentor. All the credit in the world goes to him. No one else.