A man with heart and spirit, former NFL's head coach, Michael Keller Ditka (1939-) was born on this day in Carnegie, Pennsylvania. The oldest of four children, he was an altar boy with a strict upbringing, "enforced by an old leather Marine belt."
"Success isnít measured by money or power or social rank," "Iron Mike" observed. "Success is measured by your discipline and inner peace."
An all-American end at the University of Pittsburgh before turning pro, he was NFL Rookie of the Year with the Chicago Bears in '61 and played 12 outstanding seasons as a Hall of Fame tight end with the Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys. His motto? "Attack always."
In 1972, he joined Tom Landry's coaching staff as an offensive assistant and special teams coach and helped develop Dallas' shotgun formation. "Da Coach" returned to the Bears in 1982, resuscitated the team to National Football Conference playoffs in 1984, 1985, and won Super Bowl XX in 1986.
"If youíre not in the parade, you watch the parade. Thatís life," said the man known for his do-or-die philosophy and hot temper.
Ditka, who would growl and seethe on the sidelines, liked to win. "You're never a loser until you quit trying," he pointed out.
A coach who celebrated his love for the game, Ditka asserted, "This is a great game, played by a lot of great people that made it great before we got here and I just want to see my guys respect it."
More FOOTBALL Quotations
Believe you can do it...and you will.