BUCKTOWN — With just hours to go until the Bears retire Mike Ditka's number, the Hall of Fame tight end and coach of the 1985 Super Bowl shuffling crew was once again the talk of the town.
"I think he represents some of the great things about football and the way he does things," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at an event in Bucktown where the league announced a a renewed commitment to the "Fuel Up to Play 60" at Pulaski International School.
"We're proud that he's having this honor tonight and he deserves it," Goodell said. "He was one of those great guys that could contribute on the field as a player, as a coach and he continues to contribute to the game."
Chicago Bears Chairman George McCaskey said he's been waiting on this moment for a while, despite a shaky relationship between the Bears' front office and Ditka.
"The fact of the matter is Coach Ditka and Coach [George] Halas didn't always get along. When he left as a player there were bad feelings and when he left as a coach there were bad feelings. He's shown once a Bear always a Bear, and he's one of the greatest bears of all time," McCaskey said.
"He had a great career as a player, and I've always said we'd go directly to retiring his jersey. You can't go any faster," McCaskey said.
McCaskey said Ditka has been more than helpful in putting together a great show for Bears fans to enjoy on Monday Night Football.
"He's been great. I think he's excited about it. It's going to be fun to watch. He's been very cooperative and helpful with all the public access. It's going to come together in a great ceremony and we're looking forward to it," McCaskey said.