Well, now we’ve seen it all. Mike Ditka, the howling wind of Chicago, fired as coach of the Bears? Axed? Dusted? As if he were just another Ray Perkins?
Yep. There he was Tuesday, fighting back tears at his farewell press conference.
“All things must pass,” Ditka said, obviously not referring to Jim Harbaugh on the audible.
“I’ll be all right,” he said.
“Regrets, just a few, too few to remember.”
Uh, Mike? It’s “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. . . .”
But OK. You’re not Sinatra.
Which brings us to the most important question: What next for Mike Ditka? Let’s face it. The man who always said he identified with the average, blue-jeaned, beer-bellied fans, is now, truly, like many of them: out of work.
And despite the fact that Ditka won a Super Bowl, six NFC Central titles and scares the snot out of most everyone he deals with, well, this is still a tough economy. A man wants work, he’s got to be aggressive.
I have an idea. The want ads.
SITUATION WANTED: Experienced football coach, with Hall of Fame credentials, seeks NFL team with winning record or lots of high draft picks. Eager to mold, shape and even strangle young players until they listen to me and I make them winners. Call 1-800-IRNMIKE.
Snappy? Direct? Sure. Ditka could place it in the Denver Post, the New York Times and any other market where coaching jobs are available.
Of course, there are outlets besides newspapers for Ditka. For example, magazines. Not Time or Newsweek. Something like Muscle and Fitness — where his ad can have attitude:
HEY. YOU. NFL OWNER. A heart attack couldn’t kill me. Hip surgery couldn’t kill me. Jim McMahon couldn’t kill me. What the hell is so tough about your football team? You want help? Leave a message. I’ll think about it.
Or Popular Mechanics:
Build your own coach: All pieces included. Gum. Mustache. Needs minor assembly and occasional mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. P.O. Box 12, Chicago.
Of course, Ditka might try the personals.
Married White Male, 53, into physical contact and gang tackling. Virile, sensitive, often misunderstood just because smoke is coming from my ears and I have a piece of someone’s nose between my teeth. Can you love me better than my last significant other, the jerk, who ditched me? Heal me. Please. I want. I need. Am into leather and lace. Actually, leather and laces. Also, in private, I like to wear pads. Call 1-800-MIKEY.
That should get some response. But, why stop with print? There’s always radio, which, come to think of it, Ditka covered pretty well this season, particularly on call-in talk shows. He could do it again, right?
NOW YOU LISTEN TO ME, YOU WEAK LITTLE NFL OWNER. IF YOU’RE MAN ENOUGH TO SHOW UP AND HIRE ME, COME ON DOWN, BIG BOY. MY ADDRESS IS 250 NORTH WASHINGTON ROAD. ANYTIME, ANYPLACE, ANYWHERE. . . .
Maybe one of those Dewars’ profiles:
Name: Mike Ditka.
Occupation: Deposed Football Legend.
Favorite book: Bears Playbook, 1985.
Favorite philosopher: Nietzsche, Ray.
Motto: “Why, you son of a bitch.”
There’s also the MTV route, which Ditka’s Bears once embraced. Remember the Super Bowl shuffle?
My name is Mike, Da Bear you like
I’m screamin’ and I’m schemin’ cause
they said to take a hike,
Here I sit, my bags all a-duffel.
I’m just here to do the outta-work shuffle.
Wait. Doesn’t Ditka have his own restaurant? Why, he could drop a line at the end of each menu.
No substitutions. Gratuity not included. Take-out available. Owner for hire.
He could even list himself as an item:
THE IRON MIKE — Beefy, well-aged dish served with hot sauce and fiery temperament. Hard-boiled potato. No string beans. May be difficult to digest, could trigger cholesterol. Market price. See owner.
So, you see, as Ditka might say, the world is full of &* percent$ percent#! possibilities. Nice guy like Mike? No problem finding work.
Of course, if he does go to the classifieds, he should watch out for similar ads, some of which have been running for a while. Such as:
FOOTBALL COACH. SITUATION WANTED. Remember me? I got famous in the Super Bowl in the ’85 season and have been living off it ever since! Hire me! Please! Call Buddy Ryan, 1-800-WHA- HAPPN?