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TELANDER: Ditka’s 89 going into vault, and of course he’s loving it

Updated: June 27, 2013 6:42AM



Let’s hear it for Da Coach!

News is, his jersey number, 89, will be retired by the Bears on Dec. 9.

It’s about time, don’t you think?

No, Mike Ditka doesn’t lack for résumé or face time or publicity or communication skills or football cred.

The guy is everywhere — TV, radio, print, even here in the beloved Sun-Times. (I don’t believe da Coach tweets because tweets and da Coach are kinda like hip-hop and a caveman, if you know what I mean.)

Anyway, at age 73, Ditka, who last played for the Bears in 1966 and last coached them in 1992, could receive the honor and in his acceptance speech yell at all the McCaskeys for their tardiness. He’d be justified doing it, too.

But he won’t do it.

Da Coach is Mr. Mellow now.

He loves everybody. He loves da Bears from top to bottom. The McCaskeys he would embrace as a bouquet of daisies.

He probably loves you, too — unless you’re a cab driver, a liberal, a whiner, a lazy no-good societal leech or — God forbid — a Packer-backer. Although he loved Ray Nitschke. But there were times when he wanted to kill him, too.

Da Coach. Da number.

Da Bears.

Let my heart take a breather, because some sausage is lodged der.

I’VE ALREADY GOT MY sports quote of the year, although there’s a long ways to go. But this will be hard to top.

After Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper ran face-first into the wall at Dodger Stadium, knocking himself silly and cutting his chin to the tune of 11 stitches, his manager, Davey Johnson, said it was not very serious and Harper would be fine.

‘‘I wasn’t worried about a concussion,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘I mean, he got hit on the chin. You might get knocked out, but you don’t usually get a concussion from that . . .’’

Davey, the next man to get knocked out and not suffer a concussion will be the first in the history of mankind.

DUKE COACH AND savior of lost souls Mike Krzyzewski made $9.7 million during the 2011 calendar year.

Louisville hoops coach Rick Pitino eked by on $8.9 million during the same time.

Just wanted you to know.

NO COLLEGE basketball layer — ever — has been paid anything legally for his skill.

PAC-12 CONFERENCE commissioner Larry Scott made $3.1 million in 2011. The Pac-12 recently signed a 12-year television agreement with ESPN and Fox that is worth about $3  billion for the conference.

I guess Scott deserves his money.

I just wonder what those games would be like if there were no players. (They’re unpaid, you know.) Would folks pay their cable provider to watch a bunch of executives in coats and ties roughing each other up?

Hmm. Maybe.

Wow, I think absolutely!

WHAT’S A CHICAGO sports column without mention of Derrick Rose?

According to Sports Illustrated, Rose was the seventh-highest-paid athlete in the United States during the 2012-13 pay year. He pulled in $33.4 million from the Bulls and Adidas and other stuff.

And he never played a game this season.

Something about it smells, doesn’t it? I’m sorry — could anybody have managed that knee injury rehab worse? The money and Rose’s cheerful lack of comprehension of fans’ anxiety made things so . . . odd.

We all love Rose. I do. You do.

But he has to rebuild a bridge of faith with Chicago.

That’s what wealth does.

BACK TO DA COACH.

The Bears have implied that when they retire Ditka’s number, that’s it. No more. They’ll run out of numbers to give active players.

This is true, and reasonable. It was interesting to see Tim Wrightman wearing No. 89 back in the day, just as it was interesting to see Jim Morrissey wearing Dick Butkus’ No. 51.

That won’t happen again. But if the Bears retire, say, Mike Singletary’s No. 50 and Dan Hampton’s No. 99 — which they probably should — guys will be wearing No. 62.4 and 127.

Can’t do that. Imagine the Bears a century from now, with no jersey numbers at all.

So do Ditka’s — and then start a Ring of Honor, a Statue Yard, a Graveyard of the Greats, a Bears Bastille — something tangible that honors the famous players and not their arbitrary jersey numbers.

As da Coach once said: ‘‘Effort without talent is a depressing situation . . . but talent without effort is a tragedy.’’

Same with players without jerseys.

Do it, Bears.

For Ditka and all da greats.



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