LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Mike Ditka, who led the Chicago Bears to a 1986 Super Bowl victory, was fired Tuesday, nine days after the end of a 5-11 season. He will stay on indefinitely as a consultant.
"We're going to have to find some new ways to do some things, ways different than we've done them in the past," Bear President Michael McCaskey said. "There's going to be a premium on fresh ideas and a new start. I've come to the difficult conclusion that it's best to start that process with a new head coach."
Ditka, 53, who spoke haltingly during a news conference that lasted less than six minutes, said: "Scripture tells you that all things shall pass. This, too, shall pass. Regrets, just a few, but too few to remember. Thirty-two years, and I have a lot of people to thank.
"I want to thank the players most because they make it happen. Thank you, fans of this city.
"The Bears will come back," he said. "Mike Ditka will survive. I'll land on my feet. There's no problem about that."
As for hiring a new coach, McCaskey said: "The quicker, the better. Maybe some of the coaches I want to interview are with playoff teams, and we would have to wait until their season ends."
That increased speculation that Richie Petitbon, defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins and a former Bear player, would be among those considered.
McCaskey also said the Bears' coordinators, Greg Landry on offense and Vince Tobin on defense, would be considered.
The Bears finished with their worst record since 1975. Ditka had a 106-62 regular-season record in 11 seasons and led the Bears to six division titles.