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Richard Dent goes off again on Mike Ditka in ESPN’s ’85 Bears’

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What makes the ESPN “30 for 30″ film series so compelling is the unbridled truth with which the narratives are presented.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports scored another touchdown Thursday night with “The ’85 Bears.”

Director Jason Hehir told the funny-sad, discouraging-uplifting story that was the 1985 Bears. Like most films in the sports genre, a trophy is raised. But in this one, two coaches get carried off.

Hehir’s brilliant work details the team divisiveness between the defense, which aligned with coordinator Buddy Ryan, and the offense, which aligned with head coach Mike Ditka.

For some—30 years and a Super Bowl ring later—it’s still that way.

Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent is still upset about the decisions Ditka made at quarterback in subsequent years. Dent contends that when Ditka opted to play Doug Flutie at quarterback for the injured Jim McMahon, it cost the Bears a Super Bowl. Flutie started ahead of backups Steve Fuller and Mike Tomczak.

“We brought Doug Flutie off the streets with four weeks to go in the season and started him in a playoff game,” Dent recounted for ESPN. “What did that say to Fuller? What did that say to Tomczak? These are two guys you been winning with.”

Jim McMahon chimed in: “I think Mike just wanted to bring in another part of his circus. He had the fat guy, he had the nut and now we had the midget.”

ESPN followed up with Dent: “So you think if Fuller or Tomczak starts that game that you go all the way?”

Dent: “Our chances are better. It’s better than a midget. He can’t see over the line. He can’t audible. I know if I’m playing against him, it’s a walk in the park. If I’m playing against a guy who’s ben a team for four weeks, what can he do? Not much at all.

“We should have won three or four. We should have been the first team that won three in a row. That’s what I’m upset about, because that time is gone. We did not manage that quarterback position well.”

Dent was right about one thing, Flutie did struggle against the Redskins’ defensive line in that 1987 playoff game, completing 11-of-31 passes for 134 yards and two picks in the 27-13 loss. But, take it from someone who was there that day, the Bears’ “size” issue was in their secondary where Redskins receiver Art Monk, a 6-3 veteran, scorched the smaller Vestee Jackson, a rookie, for two touchdowns.

The next season with Jim McMahon starting, the Bears lost 21-17 in the playoffs to the same Redskins.

It’s not the first time Dent has displayed his displeasure for Ditka.

In 2012, Dent told ESPN.com:

“Bringing Doug Flutie in and thinking that he’s gonna come in and be on a team for three weeks and start him in a playoff game? Hell, I mean you’re trying to change the name on the Super Bowl trophy to Mike Ditka (from) Vince Lombardi when you do something like that.”

In the “30 for 30″ film, Dent also went hard at Ditka for not getting Payton a touchdown in the Super Bowl, saying “at some point you gotta make sure he scored.”

Ditka has repeatedly admitted his mistake over the years and regrets it.

“Could he have scored on the 1-yard line or the 2-yard line instead of Fridge, I guess so,” Ditka said in the film. “It was just something that never came into my mind.”

Dent fired back: “Oh, I got mixed up and this, that, that guy happnned … Well, hell! You are the head coach. How you get mixed up? That’s your job. That guy that’s been bringing you week in and week out for the last four years—how did you forget about him?”

Ditka explained: “It should have crossed my mind, but it didn’t. I didn’t think it would mean anything to I think the greatest Bear ever. But then it did. I was wrong. That I regretted a lot. I really do regret it, because I didn’t think it was important to him. But it was very important to him.”

Ditka should never have called Dent, “Robert.”

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