It’s Da Coach calling.
And he’s got terrific things to say about Bears head coach — and fellow Pennsylvanian — Matt Nagy.
“I must say I think he’s fantastic,” said 1985 Super Bowl Bears coach Mike Ditka, who strongly feels the Bears will advance to the playoffs this season.
“You gotta win the division before you get to the playoffs and I believe the Bears are going to do it,” Ditka told Sneed Thursday.
“I think Nagy is doing a heck of a job.
“But I don’t want to talk past the playoffs, don’t want to jinx them if the Bears make the playoffs because I might just have to head to Chicago for a game … if I can get my hands on a ticket,” chuckled Ditka, who told Sneed he doesn’t go to games anymore.
“I have a Sunday morning routine at my home in Florida where I get nice and cozy on the couch with a cigar and watch the games,” added Ditka, 79. “I am too old and the crowds are huge.”
How did Ditka feel about Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky wearing Ditka’s famous Bears sweater and sunglasses after the team’s win Sunday against the New York Jets?
Afterwards, Trubisky told the press: “I wouldn’t call it a costume, I’d say I dressed as a legend,”
Said a laughing Ditka: “I thought he looked really good!
“Mitch is a good guy,” he added. “I had a good run and it’s over but I really do appreciate what Mitch did.
“The Bears got a good defense, but I do believe the offense is really underrated. Mitch gets the ball to everybody. That’s a great start,” Ditka explained. “Mitch and Nagy have a mutual respect. That’s really important for the coach and quarterback to have a relationship.”
Both Ditka and Nagy were raised in Pennsylvania, which was once a “hotbed for football,” said Ditka. “Great, hard working athletes came out of there. I believe the upbringing we had helped. My generation didn’t expect anything, you had to work for it.
“I had a newspaper route when I was 7 years old. I would deliver that paper. Rain, shine, no matter what. And you didn’t throw it on the porch, you put it there.
“That’s how we learned. That’s how you got things done and you did it the right way.”
So how does Ditka — who was once urged to run as an Illinois Republican for the U.S. Senate — feel about newspapers being accused of producing “fake news?”
“It’s the newscasters I have difficulty with. Everyone has their own opinion. There are so many opinions out there, I have a hard time with it.
“Heck, I have a hard time looking at all the sides, let alone both sides!”
A Rose returns?
Once a hometown hoop hero prior to suffering a slew of career changing injuries, former Chicago Bull Derrick Rose — the youngest NBA MVP in history — got emotional Wednesday after scoring a career-high 50 points for the Minnesota Timberwolves home crowd.
So did St. Sabina peace priest Father Michael Pfleger while reflecting upon D. Rose’s journey from Englewood and through an up-and-down NBA career.
“I never doubted his talent,” Pfleger said Thursday. “But the thing I love most about Rose is he’s a passionate person who truly loves the game of basketball.
“It’s his mental strength and commitment to the game. It was never a question of ‘if’ he’d come back, it was ‘when.'”
Rose, a former Simeon Academy star, has always “showed up … been there for the brothers on the block, there for guys who played in St. Sabina’s Peace Basketball games to end violence in the city,” said Pfleger. “He showed up when he was needed. That’s what counted.
“To go through what he has and play like he did … you don’t have to say a word. His performance speaks for itself.
“My only wish was that he scored those 50 points for the Bulls,” Pfleger laughed.
Sneedlings . . .
Today’s birthdays: Jimmy Garoppolo, 27; Karamo Brown, 38; and David Schwimmer, 52.