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Bears to retire Ditka's No. 89

Mike Ditka is about to join a select group of Bears.

The Bears announced Friday that the organization would retire Ditka’s No. 89 this season. The number officially will be retired Dec. 9 during halftime of the Bears’ Monday Night Football game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Ditka played for the Bears from 1961-66 and coached the team from 1982-92. He is the only player in the NFL’s modern era to win a championship with the same team as a player (1963) and as a head coach (1985).

In 1988, Ditka became the first tight end inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Mike Ditka embodies the spirit of everything the Bears are about,” Bears 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.

“He revolutionized the tight end position as a player and grabbed an entire franchise by the throat as a head coach and willed it to victory in the Super Bowl. We have more retired numbers than any other team in the NFL. After this, we do not intend to retire any more numbers but we thought if there is going to be a last one, there is no more appropriate one than 89.”

Ditka’s No. 89 will become the 14th jersey number to be retired by the Bears.

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

77: Harold “Red” Grange

89: Mike Ditka

It’s appropriate that Ditka’s ceremony will occur during a nationally televised game against the Cowboys. He played for Dallas at the end of his career from 1969-72 and helped the team win Super Bowl VI.

-Tom Musick

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