(AUDACY) A little white lie never hurt anyone — especially if the purpose of said lie is to increase productivity and performance — right? That must have been the philosophy embraced by longtime and successful Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, who led the team to a 106-62 record over 11 years and was at the helm of the unforgettable 1985 team that won the Super Bowl.
What was the lie, exactly? Maybe it was that Packers coach Forrest Gregg was saying that Walter Payton wasn't the best running back in the NFL. Or perhaps he told quarterback Jim McMahon that, according to a little birdie, Giants coach Bill Parcells had called him overrated. Or in another case, maybe Ditka fired up the players on his vaunted defensive unit by telling them that Washington coach Joe Gibbs was calling them weak.
We know this because Pro Football Focus owner and NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth recently shared a story on his podcast about how Ditka would create motivation for his players by lying. Collinsworth shared the story in the context of discussing how Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers might boost his performance in 2021 by playing angry football after his rift with the organization.
"It doesn't even have to be a slight, it can be a perceived slight, you know, that you create," Collinsworth told fellow PFF analyst Steve Palazzolo. "They just create crap. The best one of those I've ever heard was Joe Gibbs, and he was working with Mike Ditka in the studio at NBC. He would say to Mike, he goes, 'You used to lie all the time, you used to tell your team that I said stuff about them and it wasn't even true! You just lied all the time...' And he didn't care. Ditka would just laugh."
Hey, if a little bit of disingenuous motivation is what it took to help Richard Dent record 17.0 sacks and for Dan Hampton to completely stymie the efforts of opposing running backs and for Mike Singletary to wreak havoc all over the field — and the list goes on — then I'm sure Chicago fans didn't mind Ditka sprinkling in a fib here and there.
Interestingly enough, NFL.com columnist Jim Trotter surveyed a number of well-respected names around the league about the most important traits a coach should possess. Within the top three traits for names for players like Frank Gore, Larry Fitzgerald, Travis Kelce and Richard Sherman was honesty. But that might be a different kind of honesty, you know? Demario Davis, on the other hand, put a "competitive will to win" in his top three, and that's where we believe Ditka's alleged little falsehoods are best represented.