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Ditka recovering from minor heart attack


Bears legend Mike Ditka is recovering from a minor heart attack in a Florida hospital, according to his agent, Steve Mandell.

"Coach Ditka had a mild heart attack earlier this week," Mandell said in a statement. "Doctors inserted a pacemaker, and he is doing much better. He appreciates the outpouring of support and expects to be home soon."

Ditka, now 79, revolutionized the tight end position during a Hall of Fame career with the Bears and later led the franchise to its first Super Bowl championship as head coach.

He is the only individual in the NFL's modern era to win a league championship with the same team as both a player (1963) and head coach (1985). While the Bears boast 28 Hall of Famers, Ditka is one of only 14 players to have his number retired.

After being selected by the Bears with the fifth overall pick in the 1961 draft out of Pittsburgh, Ditka was voted to five Pro Bowls in six seasons. A two-time All-Pro, he was named NFL Rookie of the Year after catching 56 passes for 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns.

On the Bears' all-time receiving list, Ditka ranks first among tight ends and fourth overall with 4,503 yards, fifth with 316 receptions and fifth with 34 touchdown catches.

Ditka played his final six NFL seasons with the Eagles (1967-68) and Cowboys (1969-72), helping Dallas win Super Bowl VI and finishing his career with 427 receptions, which remained the most by a tight end until Kellen Winslow eclipsed the mark in 1980. In 1988, "Iron Mike" became the first tight end enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

After his playing career ended, Ditka served as a Cowboys assistant coach from 1973-81 and was part of their coaching staff when they won Super Bowl XII.

Ditka was hired as Bears head coach in 1982 by George Halas a few years after sending Halas a letter expressing his interest in the job. In 11 seasons, Ditka compiled a 112-68 record while leading the Bears to six NFC Central titles, three NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl XX victory. He was named NFL Coach of the Year in 1985 and 1988.

Ditka guided one of the most dominant teams in NFL history, the famed 1985 Bears, to a 15-1 record. The team blanked the New York Giants (21-0) and Los Angeles Rams (24-0) in the playoffs before crushing the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX.