Mike Ditka, Keynote Speaker
A Pro Football Hall of Fame player and Super Bowl-winning coach, Mike Ditka joined ESPN as an NFL analyst in 2004. With a combined 26 years of playing (12) and coaching (14) experience, Mike has been an analyst on both Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown, and he makes regular appearances on ESPN Radio and SportsCenter. Previously, he worked as a booth analyst and commentator at CBS and NBC.
Mike has amassed a career few can match. He is only the second person to win the Super Bowl as a player (Dallas, 1972), assistant coach (Dallas, 1977) and head coach (Chicago, 1986). After earning All-America honors at the University of Pittsburgh, the tight end enjoyed a stellar 12-year NFL playing career. He was named NFL Rookie of the Year and selected All-Pro six times. He also caught a touchdown in the Cowboy’s Super Bowl VI win against the Miami Dolphins.
As an assistant coach with Dallas, Mike’s teams made it to the playoffs eight times, including the 1977 Super Bowl victory. In 1982, he assumed the head coaching job in Chicago, and in 11 years, collected six NFC Central titles, three NFC championship game appearances, and the Super Bowl XX title (1986) for which he was named Coach of the Year. He again earned the honor in 1988 after coaching the Bears to the NFC championship game. Mike left Chicago in 1992 only to return as head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 1997. He retired from coaching in 2000.
In addition to broadcasting, Mike owns and operates Ditka’s restaurants and is passionate about giving back and helping those in need. He is the President of the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, which provides medical and financial assistance to retired NFL players in dire need who were the pioneers of the game. He also serves on the Board of Directors for After the Impact Fund, which facilitates treatment to military veterans and professional athletes. Since 1989, Mike has been very involved in raising funds for Misericordia, a residential facility for developmentally disabled children.