My beloved Chicago Bears honored the greatest mustache in NFL history Monday night by retiring Hall of Fame tight-end and coach Mike Ditka. Governor Pat Quinn—Democrat, Peoples Republic of Illinois—did what he does best and raised the stakes (think: taxes) even higher.
From CBS News Chicago:
Gov. Pat Quinn’s office says Monday that he’s declared it “Mike Ditka Day” in honor of the former Chicago Bears player and football coach.
The Hall of Famer’s No. 89 was retired during a halftime ceremony Monday night as the Bears played the Dallas Cowboys.
Ditka was drafted by the Bears in 1961 and played for the team through 1966. He also played and coached (as an assistant to Tom Landry) for the Cowboys.
He returned to coach from 1982 until 1992.
Those of us who grew up in Chicago already know that Gov. Quinn’s decree is pointless because every day is Ditka Day. No one, not even Michael Jordan, can touch the rarefied air reserved for the red-faced, gum-chewing, crotch-grabbing, seventh-inning-stretch singing (please watch!), mustachioed man who led the Bears to an unforgettable Super Bowl-winning season back in 1985. Few men more embody what a city wants to believe it represents to the world than Michael Keller Ditka does for Chicago.
Tenacity. Toughness. Meat-sweats.
(Note: I will be making no references to the infamous Saturday Night Live caricatures of Bears fans and their insatiable love for “Da Coach” because I know too many men of a certain age who live and act exactly like that. Hits way too close to home.)
I was only a couple of years old when the Monsters of the Midway streamrolled the NFL (minus the Miami Dolphins) to a near-perfect season, but that team’s greatness was an inescapable reality for any young boy growing up. Especially if, like myself, you grew up playing football. It’s a Bears town, no matter what anyone else tells you. The Chicago Bulls won six NBA Championships during the 1990s and you still hear old farts talking about how there was “something special” about the ’85 Bears.
You might think that Chicago’s affection for Mike Ditka is all tongue-in-cheek at this point, but you’d be wrong. For all of his many flaws, the guy is a living legend. He could run for any public office in the Land of Lincoln—and almost did in 2004 (against some no-talent ultra-progressive clown who went to Jeremiah Wright’s church)—and win the election handily. His restaurant has almost single-handedly kept the pork chop business in business for two decades. His charity golf outings raise millions for blind and hearing-impaired children. He’d take a bullet for you (or at least I’d like to think that he would).
In an era of feckless, personality-less talking heads in sports and politics, Mike Ditka is as unique as they come. Congrats to the big guy on having his jersey retired. The next round (and angioplasty) is on me!
(One last note: We totally get that he’s insane too. So don’t worry.)