Mike Ditka Talks Bears, Free Agency

In Mike Ditka‘s regular writing for the Chicago Sun-Times entitled “Four downs with Ditka,” the former Bears head coach and Hall of Fame tight end discussed free agency, Josh McCown, dementia and concussions. Chicago has been active in free agency with Lamarr Houston as the team’s key acquisition, along with signing lower-tiered players like Domenik Hixon, M.D. Jennings, Ryan Mundy, Dante Rosario and Willie Young. Key re-signings have included cornerback Charles Tillman linebacker D.J. Williams. Defensive end Julius Peppers was released due to his high cap number and eventually ended up with the Packers, and McCown found a starting job in Tampa Bay.

On how he likes the Bears’ moves in free agency so far:

“I do like what they have done so far. They realize they have to build on their weakness and that’s what they’ve done. They’ve addressed some needs on the defensive line and in the secondary. I think they understand that if they had any defense last year, they would have had a real good shot at winning the division.”

On if the Bears should have tried harder to re-sign McCown:

“You know, he’s a backup quarterback. It’s essential you have your starter in place. I think it came down to salary. When he saw he wasn’t going to get what he wanted, he went somewhere else. I think it’s a good move for Tampa, but also a good move by the Bears.”

On if he worries about memory loss:

“If you play football long enough, chances are you’re going to get hurt. People didn’t know about concussions long ago. They didn’t understand the ramifications or the long-term effects. They really didn’t know how serious it was.”

On if concussions could ruin football:

“You know, if you’re a parent with a young son, are you going to let him play football? No, it’s probably going to be basketball, baseball or something else. But not football. Give the kid a set of golf clubs. Basically, that’s what is happening right now.”

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