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 extremely successful Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka, who led the team to a 106-62 record over 11 years and was at the helm of the unforgettable 1985 roster.
What was the lie, exactly? Maybe it was that, apparently, Packers coach Forrest Gregg was saying that Walter Payton wasn't the best running back in the NFL. Or perhaps he told Jim McMahon that, according to a little birdie, Giants coach Bill Parcells had called him overrated. Or, in this case, maybe Ditka fired up the players in his vaunted defensive unit by telling them that Washington coach Joe Gibbs was calling them weak.
In discussing the fact that Aaron Rodgers may be playing angry football this year due to all of the Packers drama, which might boost his performance once again, Pro Football Focus owner and NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth shared a story on his podcast about how Ditka would allegedly create that mindset for his players.
"It doesn't even have to be a slight, it can be a perceived slight, you know, that you create. 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," Collinsworth told fellow PFF analyst Steve Palazzolo. "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 for Richard Dent to record 17.0 sacks, and for Dan Hampton to completely stymy 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 Coach 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 head coach should possess. Within the top three traits for names like Frank Gore, Larry Fitzgerald, Travis Kelce and Richard Sherman was, of course, honesty. But that's 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 think Ditka's alleged little falsehoods are best represented.