Ditka: Bears defense could be better than 1985 unit that won Super Bowl

As the current team gets ready to play in London, Da Coach recalls his own team’s overseas jaunt for the first NFL game there.

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Bears quarterback Jim McMahon and head coach Mike Ditka look over London’s Wembley Stadium on Aug. 2, 1986, before a brief workout as the team went through final preparations for Sunday’s American Bowl 86 game with the Dallas Cowboys.


The Ditka file . . . 


Legendary Bears coach Mike Ditka was relaxing on his north suburban couch this past week when Sneed decided to call him on the phone, a few days before the Bears were set to take on the Oakland Raiders in London Sunday.

And no, Da Coach is not going. 

However, Da Bears in London is a classic case of Ditka déjà vu.

In 1986, Ditka coached what was then the very first “American Bowl” preseason game in London, which came almost in lockstep following their amazing Super Bowl victory after the 1985 season.

Not only were Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Dave Duerson and William “the Refrigerator” Perry cheered on by nearly 90,000 frenetic fans, but a streaker snuck into the end zone.

“The thing is this,” said Ditka in the form of reflective advice to the current team whose game kicks off at noon Sunday Chicago time at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

“You are going over there to play a football game and win. That’s it. We weren’t there to go on vacation! You do that after the season is over!”

Translation: Don’t relax (or imbibe) too much while you’re there, even though the current players are going their separate ways for a week since they have a bye week after the game and their next home match isn’t until Oct. 20 against the New Orleans Saints.

Still, the coaches, players and their wives did do some sightseeing after the game — and hit a few pubs, Ditka acknowledges.

Best D ever?

Da coach had plenty of other thoughts on the current team — which he says could boast a defense that is a notch above the Super Bowl team, which is widely considered to have the best in the history of the NFL.

“Well, I haven’t seen a defense much better ever. They are well coached. This season the defense is as good, maybe better than 1985.”

Why are they so good?

“It is not a one-man defense, but you have to point out Khalil Mack has such an impact,” Ditka says. “What makes Mack special is he has what we call a quick twitch ... he has strength ... he has great anticipation of the snap of the ball.”

Chase vs. Mitch

Ditka was no stranger to quarterback controversies when he was coach. What is his view on backup QB Chase Daniel playing instead of injured starter Mitch Trubisky?

“Football is a crazy game and you have to have a good backup plan.

“Mitch is our guy and he’s a smart and good quarterback, but [Daniels] did a good job as the backup last Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, and if he keeps playing like that the Bears shouldn’t have a problem.”

What does Da Coach think of the current head coach?

“Coach [Matt] Nagy is a perfect match for the Bears offense and anyone who comments on the team’s lack of offensive rhythm is [full of] bulls - - - . You don’t have to score a ton of points to win.” 

Stogie free

Da coach, who heads to his Florida home next week with wife, Diana, added: 

“I wish the Bears all the luck. I’m feeling pretty good and NOT smoking cigars right now!”

Grabowski and out!


The Rev. Michael Pfleger and rapper Common at the End the Violence anti-gun rally in Washington D.C. last month.


The Pfleger file . . . 

Pull up the buses! 

Reports via Father Michael Pfleger’s “End the Violence” gun control contingent from Chicago, which joined the national anti-gun rally in Washington, D.C., late last month — got a bit lost in the Trump impeachment inquiry headlines last week.

But truck on! 

Spike Lee tried to come, but couldn’t make it,” he said. 

“But Common called two hours before we arrived in D.C., showed up at the event, and rapped a terrific poem of why we’re there,” added Pfleger, who led a 12-bus contingent of 600 people “from the city of everyday gun violence” to the 2,500-person rally on the steps of the Capitol last Wednesday.

“Mayor [Lori] Lightfoot not only gave us 100% support, but sent snacks for everybody on the buses and all the water we could drink,” he added. 

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s graciousness to greet us and address our cause in the midst of the impeachment imbroglio was something nobody expected. But there she was anyway! And for me too embrace the great, heroic civil rights leader U.S. Rep. John Lewis from Atlanta was amazing!”

“I have to admit our three-day bus ride was exhausting and I wondered if I was getting too old,” he said. “But then I always thought about what Dr. [Martin Luther] King Jr. would do, and I think he would have smiled.”

Sneedlings . . . 

The loss of an exceptional man: Condolences to former Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the death of his beloved father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, a truly wonderful and gentle doctor to my toddler son, Patrick, when his partner, Dr. Neil Aronson, was on vacation. . . . I spy: Rapper Post Malone at TAO nightclub after his Chicago show. . . . Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo spotted dining at Hugo’s Frog Bar on Tuesday. . . . Ditto for Bulls player Denzel Valentine, “Chicago Fire” actor Eamonn Walker and rapper Ty Dolla $ign. . . Saturday’s birthdays: Kate Winslet, 44; Brian Johnson, 72; and Travis Kelce, 30. . . . Sunday’s birthdays: Lebron James Jr., 15; Elisabeth Shue, 56; and Sophina DeJesus, 25; and a belated birthday wish to former state senator and businessman Bill Marovtiz, ageless and priceless. 

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