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Mike Ditka to receive special honor during Super Bowl

The legendary Bears coach will be honored by the NFL as one of the 100 greatest football players of all time when it celebrates its 100th anniversary at the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami on Feb. 2

Former Bears coach Mike Ditka speaks during a ceremony for the unveiling of statues of Walter Payton and George Halas on Sept. 3 at Soldier Field.
Former Bears coach Mike Ditka speaks during a ceremony for the unveiling of statues of Walter Payton and George Halas on Sept. 3 at Soldier Field.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Holy Grabowski!

Sneed has learned legendary Bears coach Mike Ditka will be honored by the NFL as one of the 100 greatest football players of all time when it celebrates its 100th anniversary at the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami on Feb. 2!

When Sneed contacted Ditka this week, the football icon stated: “Well, I haven’t heard about that, really. Look, football doesn’t owe me anything. I owe everything to football. It’s really too hard to talk about.”

Ditka, who will celebrate his 80th birthday on Oct. 18, seemed to choke up a bit.

“I mean, look at all the greats I worked with: George Halas, Tom Landry, Sid Luckman,” said Ditka, a Hall of Fame tight end who later guided the 1985 Bears in winning Super Bowl XX.

As part of its seasonlong celebration, the NFL is expected to unveil its list of the 100 greatest players during Super Bowl festivities at Hard Rock Stadium. Based on the NFL’s own commercial celebrating the event, former Bears greats Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher are also expected to be part of the celebration.

On NFL.com’s website celebrating the 100th anniversary, a section devoted to the NFL’s greatest players features photos of just two players: Ditka and Deion Sanders.

“I owe my whole life to football, starting in high school, college and on and on,” Ditka told Sneed. “My entire life. So many greats I played against and coached against. I’ve had a good run. I played defense when I was hired by George Halas — and they made me a tight end.

“I mean, Walter Payton was on my team! And we had the greatest defense ever in 1985. The greatest.

“But I’m not looking back. I’m old now. I had my fun and a good run. And that will always be there. It’s now time to move forward and enjoy this gift of life.”