DITKA: An Autobiography by Mike with Don Pierson Ditka

DITKA: An Autobiography

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One of the most vacuous and least revealing sports bios in recent memory. Ditka, of course, is head coach of pro football's Chicago Bears, whose championship 1985 season was capped by a big win in Super Bowl XX. Unfortunately, the author's guarded, even evasive, account of his roundabout trek to the top of the NFL heap adds precious little of either interest or value to the public record. The sketchy first-person narrative takes Ditka from boyhood in a small Pennsylvania town, where sport provided one of the few avenues of escape from the local steel mill, to his present eminence, with stops along the way in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Dallas. Following a college career at Pitt, Ditka was drafted by the Bears as a tight end in 1960. Traded away by George Halas, he wound up with the Cowboys under Tom Landry, who hired him as an assistant coach when his playing days ended. Halas returned the prodigal to Chicago in 1982, one year before he died. Even easily pleased fans may wonder what qualities have brought the contentious Ditka to the peak of a demanding profession. Particularly puzzling is the depth of the lapsed-Catholic author's commitment to the born-again Christianity he professes to have embraced. ""I think inner peace is figuring out who the hell you are and where you fit into the game plan of life,"" Ditka confides at one point. As a practical matter, the author recounts virtually all personal and professional matters of any significance--e.g., the falling-out and reconciliation with Halas, noisy run ins with defensive specialist Buddy Ryan (who has moved on to the top coaching spot in Philadelphia), a widely publicized arrest for drunken driving, divorce, remarriage, et al.--in the same dismissive fashion he reviews the rosters of teams with which he has been associated. There's obviously more to the Ditka story than readers will get from this tedious, subliterate chronicle. Very likely, though, it is not worth having.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1986
Publisher: Bonus Books (160 E. Illinois St., Chicago, IL 60611)