Chicago Bears to retire former head coach Mike Ditka`s No. 89 - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Chicago Bears to retire former head coach Mike Ditka`s No. 89

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Bears will retire former head coach Mike Ditka's No. 89. The Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end's number will be officially retired during halftime at the Bears' Monday Night Football game Dec. 9.

"Mike Ditka embodies the spirit of everything the Bears are about," Chairman George H. McCaskey said in a release. "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."

The Bears have the most retired numbers in the NFL. The team intends to end their pattern of retiring numbers for a time with Ditka's. McCaskey said Ditka revolutionized the tight end position and willed the team to victory in the 1985 Super Bowl, so there was no number more appropriate than 89.

"It's a tremendous honor," Ditka said. "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 said playing for the Bears was unbelievably fun, and he would have been very happy with that memory and experience alone. But he is tremendously honored.

"When you mention [Gale] Sayers and [Dick] Butkus and some of the guys who have had their jerseys retired, it's an unbelievable group of men and great players in the NFL and for the Chicago Bears," Ditka said in the release.

Ditka played for Chicago from 1961-1966 and coached from 1982-1992. He is part of a select number of NFL greats to win a title with the same team as both a player (1963) and head coach (1985).

According to a release from the Bears, Ditka's No. 89 is the 14th jersey number to be retired by the Chicago Bears joining, No. 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).

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