Mike Ditka - "you Could Hear The House Rock"
"You Could Hear the House Rock"
The son of a steelworker from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, Ditka was large and strong even as a child. In People, Jack Friedman quoted Ditka's father, Mike Sr., who said that when Ditka did pushups, "You could hear the house rock."
Ditka went on to play football at the University of Pittsburgh, where, as an end, he was an All-American. However, in his senior year, he also showed the anger that would later get him in trouble as a coach: at the halftime of a game, he slammed a teammate into a locker because the teammate had missed a tackle. A week later, he apologized.
In 1961, Ditka was drafted by the Chicago Bears, and spent six years playing with them as a tight end. Although he was not fast, he was unstoppable once he had the ball. He was the NFL Rookie of the Year for 1961, and played in the Pro Bowl from 1961 through 1966. Ditka was also willing to play through pain; in 1964 he played most of the season with a separated shoulder. He could not lift his left hand higher than his shoulder, but caught balls by swatting them with his right hand and pinning them to his chest.
In 1967, Ditka was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, and played two years with them before being traded to the Dallas Cowboys, with whom he played four more seasons. With the Cowboys, Ditka won the Super Bowl in 1972, catching a touchdown pass in the Cowboys'
24-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins. He retired from playing football after that season. During his career he caught 427 passes, 43 for touchdowns. He averaged 13.6 yards per catch
Ditka did not remain unemployed for long. He was soon hired by Tom Landry, the Cowboys' head coach, as an offensive assistant and special teams coach. He helped guide Dallas to a Super Bowl win in 1977, a 27-10 victory over the Denver Broncos.