Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Bears embrace history with Ditka at practice
For the first time in years, Mike Ditka was patrolling the practice field at Halas Hall on Tuesday.
What was his first impression?
"It was hard standing up for two hours when I'm used to sitting on a (golf) cart," Ditka said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000.
The legendary Bears coach and Hall of Fame player was a guest of coach Marc Trestman, who called Ditka soon after being hired by the Bears.
"I thought that was a great place to start, somebody who knew as much about the Bears and the tradition of the Bears as he does," Trestman said. "It turned out to be dinner with our wives and I called him last week with the idea that we left it, was to bring him by and see Halas Hall and the new facility and spend some time with our players and say hello to them. He graciously agreed to do that and we certainly appreciate the fact that he came out here today to be with us."
Ditka, whose 11-year run as Bears coach included a victory in Super Bowl XX, watched practice and then addressed the players.
"These guys have got to band together as brothers," Ditka said. "I don't care what you think about your teammate, he's your brother and you've got to play for him, he's got to play for you. I told them if you respect your teammates they'll respect you. If you respect the coaches they will respect you. Most of all you've got to respect the game. Don't act like a clown. Don't be a jerk out there, don't be a showoff. If you respect the fans maybe they will respect you. That's a big maybe though."
Bears tight end Martellus Bennett said Ditka's passion was obvious in his speech.
"He talked about the commitment to the teammates, things like that and it comes down to the players, not just the coaches," Bennett said. "The coaches can coach, but when we're on the field, we need to make the commitment to one another, making things happen for each other."
Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said Ditka's presence reminds them what they are playing and coaching for.
"Anytime you can bring history, an alumni of a team, especially someone like Mike Ditka, it really brings the player back, the coach back, ourselves -- I'm saying us in the building -- back to the reality of what's going on," Kromer said. "That this is the Chicago Bears. This is the greatest city on Earth, and that's what he spoke about. And we needed to hear it from someone like Mike Ditka."
Ditka came away from the practice impressed with Trestman and his coaching staff.
"Marc Trestman is a good coach," Ditka said. "He's a good man and he knows offensive football, there's no question about it. Their defense I don't think is going to fall off very much at all. I know (Brian) Urlacher was a great player, I just think they will find a way to overcome that loss. I just think they will be very good on defense."
ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright and Jeff Dickerson contributed to this report.