Imrem: How about a blast from the past, Halas style?

  • A bold move like getting Jim Harbaugh from the 49ers' sideline to the Bears' sideline is just what needs to be made at Halas Hall.

    A bold move like getting Jim Harbaugh from the 49ers' sideline to the Bears' sideline is just what needs to be made at Halas Hall. Associated Press

Updated 12/1/2014 8:35 PM

The parallels must be striking for longtime Bears fans.

Jim Harbaugh is Mike Ditka. Phil Emery is Jim Finks. Marc Trestman is Neill Armstrong.


Not in quality, mind you. We're talking about roles.

What remains to be seen is whether someone in the McCaskey family can at least resemble George Halas.

Someone has to ignore Emery, the Bears' general manager, and fire Trestman, the head coach, and figure out how to get Harbaugh in here to replace him.

After the 1981 season, Halas knew what to do when his football team was like a grocery store cart with four wobbly wheels.

Halas came out of what essentially was retirement to fire Armstrong and replace him with Ditka as head coach.

Armstrong, perhaps the nicest football coach ever -- yes, even nicer than Trestman -- coached like he didn't know what the Bears are all about.

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Ditka sure did, of course. So does Harbaugh.

The Bears are in a state of identity crisis again with a similar solution possibly looming because Harbaugh just might be fired in San Francisco despite a successful run.

Like Ditka, a former Bears tight end, Harbaugh, a former Bears quarterback, is a difficult guy for ownership to manage. But those two guys sure know what the Bears are supposed to look and play like.

The difference between Armstrong and Ditka, and between Trestman and Harbaugh, is as profound as the difference between Halas and the McCaskeys.

Papa Bear -- who was in his mid-80s back in the early 1980s -- was a football man who knew what had to be done when it needed to be done.

Halas didn't care what Finks or anyone else cared about what he planned to do.

Papa Bear didn't even care when legendary columnist Bill Gleason questioned his sanity by asking him to address "the senility issue."


All Halas cared about was the Bears. He wanted them to regain their personality as a bunch of rough, tough, rock 'em, sock 'em, rockin', rollin', growlin' grizzlies again.

Papa Bear couldn't stand watching his team pushed around NFL stadiums like they were cubby bears.

So George Halas went fishing in a familiar pond and hired Mike Ditka, also known as Iron Mike. Would George McCaskey set a net if the familiar Jim Harbaugh became available?

My goodness, Halas' move toward Ditka was crazy. Not only did he bring the ornery Ditka back to his NFL roots, Papa Bear retained the ornery Buddy Ryan as defensive coordinator.

Four seasons later the Bears won the Super Bowl with a defense that would inflict pain of seismic proportions.

Do the McCaskeys have the courage and creativity, insensitivity and perhaps insanity to restore the Bears' traditional image?

All Ditka did was come in like Hurricane Mike and start cleaning out the lockers of players who didn't stand for what the Bears stood for.

We'll see soon after this disturbing, disgusting, dysfunctional season whether the McCaskeys understand that the Bears need a distant replay and need it quickly.

Common belief currently is that all the primary players -- Trestman and Emery -- will remain in place while underlings take the fall.

That's based on the impression that none of the McCaskeys has the vision and impatience of a Papa Bear.

The family can prove they don't if the Bears don't do whatever it takes and pays whatever it takes to bring Jim Harbaugh to Halas Hall.

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