The Chicago Bears are finally retiring the number of Mike Ditka, an NFL Hall of Famer and three-time Super Bowl champion (as player, assistant coach, and head coach). It’s a long-overdue honor for one of the most iconic figures ever to strap on a helmet. Ditka is one of the last active links between the three yards and a cloud of dust era of Lombardi, Halas, and Landry and today’s high-wire aerial circus act known as the National Football League.
Mike Ditka’s life has been one of self-discovery and transformation, from player to coach to TV analyst. One of the greatest tight ends in NFL history, Ditka transformed the position by bringing pass catching to a role traditionally relegated to blocking, as he burst onto the NFL scene with over 1000 receiving yards in his rookie year. Decades later he made history again as coach of the 1985 Bears, one of the best teams of all time, known for their killer defense, public squabbles, and the god-awful but wildly popular music video Super Bowl Shuffle. Today he’s the elder statesman of ESPN analysts, bringing his reliably cranky personality and old-school insights to millions every week.
I recently had the chance to catch up with Da Coach at our Conversations on the Future of Business event in Chicago. I was particularly interested to get his take on how to best unlock the human potential of a team. His advice applies equally to the worlds of sports and business. Watch, listen, and learn from one of the most influential personalities in sports.