(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

This book revolves around the 1986 Super Bowl victory of the Chicago Bears, and portrays Mike Ditka as seemingly destined to return to Chicago and restore the tarnished image of the Bears to the grandeur of the George Halas era. Ditka briefly describes his early years in Pennsylvania and shows how his high school sports success led him to the University of Pittsburgh, where he played three sports and gained All-American recognition in football and a reputation as a hatchet man in basketball.

Ditka traces his professional career from his early years with the Bears through a miserable year in Philadelphia with the Eagles, where it seemed that his playing days were over, and finally to Dallas, where he finished his career in high style.

After Ditka’s retirement, Tom Landry invited him back to coach for the Cowboys. The lesson was not lost on Halas, who, not long before his death, brought Ditka back to Chicago as head coach of the Bears.

The football fan will enjoy Ditka’s observations about his three seasons as the Bears’ coach culminating in a Super Bowl victory in 1986. His “tough guy” approach to football comes through loud and clear. The chapters covering his views about Buddy Ryan, Jim McMahon, “The Refrigerator,” Walter Payton, and other great players are intriguing; indeed, these anecdotes and observations are the best parts of the book.

DITKA has the weakness of many sports autobiographies in that it is sketchy, lacks continuity, and shows evidence of a ghostwriter’s embellishments for effect, but it is a book that will be enjoyed for the insights it presents of Mike Ditka and the world of professional football.