NFL Countdown: Mike Ditka's ludicrous trade for Ricky Williams tarnished his legacy forever

NFL Countdown: Mike Ditka
NFL Countdown: Mike Ditka's ludicrous trade for Ricky Williams tarnished his legacy forever
Ditka and Williams pose for an ESPN photo shoot. Photo via
Ditka and Williams pose for an ESPN photo shoot. Photo via

We all know Mike Ditka. The former tight end for Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia, who spent 12 years in the NFL as a player. He won a Super Bowl as a player in his rookie season in 1963 and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

We all know about the infamous Ricky Williams trade, but here is a little background on the Hall of Famer.

After he finished his playing career, Ditka turned to coaching, taking over his beloved Bears in 1982. His coaching tenure did not get off to the best of starts as Chicago went 3-6 through his nine games in charge.

The Bears improved to 8-8 the following year, and then in 1984, it would be the start of five consecutive seasons that the Bears had a winning record in the regular season.

Ditka's crowning achievement was leading the '85 Chicago Bears to Super Bowl glory. Chicago only lost one game for the season, ending with a 15-1 record. The only loss (a 38-24 defeat) came at the hands of the Miami Dolphins in Week 13.


The Bears were second in points per game (28.5) and had the best defense in the league, allowing just 12.4 points per game. During the season, they kept their opponents to or under 10 points on 11 occasions, which included four shutouts.

The Bears won the Super Bowl that year, defeating the New England Patriots 46-10 to take their record for the season to 18-1. Ditka would remain with the Bears until 1992, when he became a TV analyst for five years.

He returned as head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 1997, and perhaps his biggest yikes moment happened in 1999.

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The Ricky Williams trade tarnished Ditka's legacy

Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears
Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears

The NFL draft is where head coaches, general managers, and the like make their money. If you hit on your draft picks, the team's fans will love you, but miss, and the world can come crumbling down.

For Ditka, his 1999 draft antics will go down in history as one of the worst things he had ever done in football.

Ditka, head coach of the Saints at the time, wanted to move up the draft board (Saints had pick No. 12) to guarantee that he could select Ricky Williams, a running back out of the University of Texas.

Such was Ditka's want to move up that he essentially sold the farm, the house, the car, the Saints facility, and anything else you could think of. Washington was the team the Saints traded with.

The Saints sent all their 1999 draft picks and two of the first three picks in the 2000 draft for the fifth overall pick to select Williams. That is quite some haul.

The Saints struggled in 1999, and with a 3-13 record, the Bears legend was fired, ending his NFL coaching career once and for all.

Ricky Williams spent only three seasons with the Saints before he was traded to Miami. He spent seven years with the Dolphins, with his best season coming in 2002 as he rushed for 1,853 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was named an All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.

Williams finished his NFL career with 10,009 rushing yards and 66 touchdowns in 11 years, so he had a decent career, but no one will ever forget the ridiculous haul the Saints gave up to get him.

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