Mike Ditka quite the hit during Evergreen Park visit
By Steve metsch firstname.lastname@example.org December 4, 2013 11:02PM
Updated: January 6, 2014 1:12PM
Mike Ditka, who for many remains the face of the Bears 21 years after he was fired as their coach, visited with about 250 of the faithful Wednesday night at the new Binny’s Beverage Depot in Evergreen Park.
They came from Oak Lawn, other south suburbs and points beyond, including St. Charles and Waukegan. Nearly everyone wore a Bears clothing item. Dave Allen drove from Kenosha, Wis., to be first in line to meet Ditka and have him autograph five photos because “I like him. He’s a classy guy.”
Each person made a $25 donation to Christmas Without Cancer to get Ditka’s autograph or a photo with him. Ditka presented the charity a $10,000 check from Binny’s, and joined Mayor Jim Sexton for a ribbon-cutting at the store that opened two weeks ago.
Ditka, 74, chided a few fans who asked for autographs on several items, saying “if you guys are going to get a bunch of stuff signed, someone’s gonna get cheated.” But once he got rolling, he signed everything, including a Bears sculpture Liz O’Neill, of Oak Lawn, paid $30 for 10 years ago. Ditka, she said, was a idol of her late father, Pete.
“He’s an institution, an icon in Chicago. He’s the real deal,” she said.
Regarding his number being retired Monday night at halftime, he said “it’s a great honor. It really is.”
Cutler or McCown? “The Bears have two dang-good quarterbacks right now. They have a decision to make. I’d love to keep both of them. I don’t know if they can.”
About drawing a big crowd Wednesday? “I’m surprised and humbled. I don’t understand it.”