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1985 Bears Coverage: Ditka coach of year

Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

Ditka coach of year

Sun-Times Staff

Originally published Dec. 27, 1985

Mike Ditka, who coached the Bears to the NFL’s best regular-season record and created a phenomenon that helped improve the league’s sagging TV ratings, was named today the league’s Coach of the Year by The Associated Press.

For the 46-year-old Ditka, who spent his coaching apprenticeship in Dallas under the reserved Tom Landry, it was a year in which his flamboyance may have been as important as the Bears’ 15-1 record.

Almost fired a year ago after his old-style, tough-guy image clashed with team president Mike McCaskey’s Ivy League background, Ditka was not only the NFL’s most successful coach but also its most innovative.

Long after his team is forgotten, Ditka may be known as the coach who inserted 300-pound rookie defensive lineman William “The Refrigerator” Perry as a running back in goal-line situations.

Ditka was an overwhelming winner in voting by three sportswriters and broadcasters covering each of the NFL’s 28 teams. He received 66 votes, with five going to runnerup Raymond Berry of New England and three to Landry.

Tom Flores of the Los Angeles Raiders, John Robinson of the Los Angeles Rams, Joe Gibbs of the Washington Redskins, Don Shula of the Miami Dolphins and Joe Walton of the New York Jets each received scattered support.

“There are a lot of great coaches in football and I’m very privileged,” Ditka said. “But I’m realistic. Coaches are voted on their record. I’m fortunate to have a good football team and good assistant coaches so I don’t get too caught up in that individual glory.

“The award is shared by the football team as well as the assistant coaches. And I’m not just saying that to be idealistic or flattering to anybody.”

Being idealistic and flattering has never been the style of a man who once listed his heroes as John Wayne, Vince Lombardi and Ronald Reagan.