Jim O'Donnell: Mike Ditka says Bears should stay in Chicago
THAT GROWING MOMENTUM to get the Bears into a new stadium at Arlington Park received a jolting forearm shiver Thursday.
Mike Ditka -- one of the greatest Bears of 'em all -- said the team should stay in the city of Chicago.
"The Chicago Bears belong in the city of Chicago," Ditka told The Daily Herald. "That's it. Call me an old-timer, call me a traditionalist, whatever. They're a Chicago institution, and that should be the end of it."
But, "Da' Coach" -- now age 81 -- admitted that he has not been closely following recent developments in the potentially seismic gridiron uprooting.
"I couldn't tell you anything that (Bears president and CEO) Ted Phillips has announced in the last week," Ditka said.
"I've been too busy trying to get this old body out on a golf course.
"But I'll also tell ya' this. Just like the Bears belong in Chicago, like Coach (George) Halas had it, Arlington Park should remain a racetrack.
"It's a gem, a thing of beauty. Arlington Heights is known around the world because of that racetrack. Racetrack in Arlington Heights, Bears in Chicago. That's the end of it."
Ditka snorted away a suggestion that "Bears weather" is a myth and that the team should be playing in a stadium with any kind of roof.
"You want to tell me that a team coming up from a warm-weather climate isn't giving away a significant advantage to try and play in cold and rain outside in a Chicago December or January?
"You can't practice for that kind of weather. You can't simulate it. You've got to be in it. Chicago Bears football weather is a great part of the team's legacy, and all of that legacy in Chicago in my life has been outdoors."
Ditka returned from his annual extended winter stay in Florida at the beginning of May.
Showing that he remains keenly capable of delivering a jolting forearm shiver.
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.