Mike Ditka

Since Mike Ditka, Bears coaching hires both good and bad – sometimes very good, sometimes very bad

Since Mike Ditka, Bears coaching hires both good and bad – sometimes very good, sometimes very bad

As the Bears begin their search for the coaching successor to John Fox, names will be swirling. Which the Bears decide upon will likely be the most notable Chicago sports event of the year, even though that year still has 364 more days to run.

It will be a move that comes with some interesting history.

The organization has been made sport of for any number or missteps, some amply justified, others maybe not so much. Hiring Bears coaches, while marked by erratic swings, has not been by any means a complete drumbeat litany of calamity.

After Mike Ditka was dispatched in 1992, Dallas defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt was arguably the most sought-after candidate for top sideline jobs. The Cowboys were coming off Super Bowl obliteration of the Buffalo Bills to cap off a resurgence in which Wannstedt was the No. 1 sidekick of coach Jimmy Johnson and had only once suffered through two straight losing seasons in a career ranging from college assistant to NFL head coach.

Then-Bears President Michael McCaskey pursued and edged out the New York Giants to land Wannstedt, who achieved some early success before his job-ending collapse from 1996-98.

McCaskey enacted a collapse of his own in the mishandled attempt to hire Dave McGinnis, a botched moment that effectively cost McCaskey his job. The Bears ultimately hired Dick Jauron, who managed as many playoff appearances as Wannstedt (one) but little else.

The move to Lovie Smith produced a division championship in year two (2005) and a Super Bowl appearance in year three, and ultimately produced a win total (81) trailing only George Halas and Ditka.

Missed playoffs then brought an end to Smith’s tenure despite a 10-6 record in 2012, whereupon Smith was fired by Phil Emery, who brought in Marc Trestman to start a two-year stint of dysfunction that got both Emery and Trestman fired.

The organization then turned to Fox, like Wannstedt once upon a time, perhaps the top candidate on the open market. His record of success included taking Carolina and Denver to (losing) Super Bowls, but had never experienced consecutive losing seasons through 27 years of NFL coaching at any level.

Fox’s time ended, as Wannstedt’s did, with three straight losing seasons for the first time in his career.

Moon: Bears fans can love 'Da Coach' and not agree with Mike Ditka's political views

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AP

Moon: Bears fans can love 'Da Coach' and not agree with Mike Ditka's political views

"So, what do you think of Mike Ditka’s comments?"

The question cropped up in more than one conversation the morning after the Bears’ 20-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. It was in reference to remarks from Ditka to Jim Gray on Westwood One’s pregame show Monday night, in which Mike declared, among other things, that he hasn’t seen the social injustice that some athletes have protested, and that "there has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people."

The problem here is where to start. Because the fact is that there are too many angles in what Mike voiced (social injustice, protest venues, disrespect) to have just one reaction, and because, perhaps surprisingly even to myself, I honestly don’t have a violent reaction one way or the other.

If that’s what Mike believes, so be it. He’s got as much right to think that as anyone who thinks the last 100 years were replete with oppression and social injustice. Mike did offer the example of Muhammad Ali rising to the top; he didn’t mention, though, that a younger Ali/Cassius Clay was denied service in one of his hometown restaurants even while wearing his Olympic light-heavyweight gold medal. But that’s digressing. Louis Armstrong or Yogi Berra (the original source is debated) famously remarked, “what some folks don’t know, you can't tell 'em."

As far as the protests, which Mike doesn’t think should be taken onto the sidelines, it’s probably not what I would do if I were standing on a sideline before a game. I might link arms with teammates (expressing unity doesn’t qualify as "protest" to me), but regardless of what I feel, I’m not going to disrespect something of immense value and pride to you. That’s just me. My choice.

(One thought/question: If every American throughout Soldier Field and in every other NFL stadium had linked arms after the events of 9/11, would that be derided as disrespectful? I doubt it. But that’s also digressing. "Disrespect" is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. Donald Trump saying to Bill O’Reilly, in a conversation about Vladimir Putin being a killer, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?" – I suppose that's showing respect for our nation, flag and soldiers; I'm just not seeing it.)

In fairness to Mike, he explicitly said that you've got every right to protest, and he wasn’t condemning or criticizing anybody. Also in the eye of the beholder.

I tend to second some sentiments expressed by Jack Nicklaus, who told Golfweek, “[Thoughts on the protests] is a very difficult question to answer when you ask me. Everyone who answers that question cannot properly answer it. They don’t want to disrespect the rights of the kids. And you don’t want to disrespect our country. So how do you answer it?”
 
Amen.

The worst seventh-inning stretch performances of all time

The worst seventh-inning stretch performances of all time

Just 14 years ago, Cubs fans heard quite possibly the worst rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" ever. 

Ozzy Osbourne, lead vocalist for Black Sabbath, took the mic that 2003 afternoon at Wrigley and made eardrums bleed. It was that painful. 

It got "In the Loop" thinking, what were some other horrendous singing performances? 

From Da Coach to Scottie Pippen, the video above mashes up the worst of the worst.