Four downs with Ditka
BY MIKE DITKA June 22, 2013 12:56AM
27 Sep 1992: Running back Neal Anderson of the Chicago Bears moves the ball during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears won the game, 41-31.
Updated: July 24, 2013 6:45AM
1. NFL.com came out with a list of the five most underrated and overrated Bears of all-time. Neal Anderson, a player you coached for almost his entire career, was at the top of the underrated list. What are your thoughts?
I don’t think he was truly appreciated for how good he was. He was really a good football player coming out of Florida, and that continued for us. He was a great player, but he came after Walter Payton. Walter Payton was the best overall football player I’ve ever seen in every aspect, on and off the field — a class individual, a great runner, great blocker. He did everything and did it well. You know, Neal made his reputation as a hitter on special teams. He was very good. He covered punts. He did everything.
2. William ‘‘The Refrigerator’’ Perry topped the overrated list. What are your thoughts?
I disagree with that because William Perry was a very, very good football player. If they’re talking about did he get more publicity than others, well, maybe. Believe me, he was a hell of an athlete when I got him. He gained some weight, slowed down and didn’t have the movement later. But when we got him, he was as good an athlete as I’ve seen come out of college for a big guy.
3. The Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez has landed himself in some offseason trouble. As a coach, what can you say or do to help keep your players in line? Or is it out of your hands?
It really is. You can say everything, you can do everything for them, but when it comes down to it, they have to do it for themselves. They have to understand that they have responsibility and an obligation, not only to the league but to their team, their teammates and to the fans. They have to conduct themselves in the proper way. If they don’t, then they’re going to get themselves in trouble. That’s all there is to it. They have to realize that they have a bull’s-eye on them — they’re targets.
4. You were around during the Blackhawks’ golden era with Hull, Mikita and Esposito. What do you think of this current group of Blackhawks?
I love hockey. I watch it all the time. That was a great group back then, but I think these guys are every bit as good. I’ve always said hockey players are some of the best athletes. It’s amazing to see the things they do on ice. But this group has their hands full with the Bruins. The Bruins are a great team. I hope they win it. It’s going to be fun to watch.