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Bears to retire Ditka's No. 89

The SportsXchange

The Chicago Bears announced Friday that they will retire Mike Ditka's No. 89.

Ditka, a Hall of Fame tight end with the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys, also coached the Bears.

His number will be retired during a halftime ceremony on Dec. 9 when the Bears take on the Cowboys at Soldier Field.

"Mike Ditka embodies the spirit of everything the Bears are about," chairman George H. McCaskey said in a statement. "He's an icon. The last time we won the championship Mike Ditka was our coach and the last time we won before that Mike Ditka was a player. The organization knew it was the right thing to do."

Ditka coached the Bears to a Super Bowl title in January 1986. He was also part of an NFL championship the team won in 1963.

"It's a tremendous honor," Ditka said in a statement. "It's something that I didn't anticipate or expect, but it's a great honor. When you think of all the great Bears players who have had their jerseys retired, I can't say that there's any greater honor. I'm very humbled by it and very thankful that George (McCaskey) made the decision to go ahead and do that because it's really great."

Ditka's No. 89 is the 14th jersey number to be retired by the Bears joining, Nos. 3 (Bronko Nagurski), 5 (George McAfee), 7 (George Halas), 28 (Willie Galimore), 34 (Walter Payton), 40 (Gale Sayers), 41 (Brian Piccolo), 42 (Sid Luckman), 51 (Dick Butkus), 56 (Bill Hewitt), 61 (Bill George), 66 (Clyde "Bulldog" Turner) and 77 (Harold "Red" Grange).

Ditka was drafted with the fifth pick overall by the Bears in 1961. In six seasons, he was named to five Pro Bowl and two All-Pro teams. He was the NFL's Rookie of the Year in 1961 after making 56 catches for 1,076 yards with 12 touchdowns. He had 316 receptions for 4,503 yards with 34 touchdowns overall with the Bears.

Ditka played six more seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles (1967-68) and Dallas Cowboys (1969-72). He finished his career with 427 catches for 5,812 yards with 43 touchdowns. He helped the Cowboys win Super Bowl VI.

As a coach, Ditka was a Cowboys assistant from 1973-81, including winning Super Bowl XII.

Ditka was named head coach of the Bears in 1982. He won 112 games, including six in the playoffs. He also coached the New Orleans Saints for three years (1997-99) and finished his coaching career with a 121-95 regular-season record.

He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
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