Pro Football Hall of Famer Richard Dent blames former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka for the team's failure to follow up its Super Bowl victory in the 1985 season with more championships, ESPNChicago.com reported.
"We came back three years in a row and had home-field advantage," Dent told WSCR-AM in Chicago on Wednesday. "Our coach couldn't figure out the right quarterback to play. The disappointing part to me is that we only got one out of it. We should have been the first team ever to win three Super Bowls in a row. It was there for the taking, but we didn't manage that one position right."
The Bears had one of the NFL's all-time great defenses in the 1980s, particularly the '85 team, which went 15-1 in the regular season and enjoyed three one-sided victories in the postseason. But that Bears team had the misfortune to come along at a time when other NFC powers -- the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants and the Washington Redskins -- were winning multiple Super Bowl titles.
Dent was especially bitter about the 1986 season, when the Bears were defending their crown and went 14-2 in the regular season but lost quarterback Jim McMahon to an injury. The team made a late-season trade for Doug Flutie, and Ditka elected to go with Flutie over backups Mike Tomczak and Steve Fuller for the Bears' home playoff game against the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins won 27-13, and Flutie completed only 11 of 31 passes for 134 yards with two interceptions.
"Bringing Doug Flutie in and thinking that he's going to come in and be on a team for three weeks and start him in a playoff game?" Dent said. "Hell, I mean you're trying to change the name on the Super Bowl trophy to Mike Ditka (from) Vince Lombardi when you do something like that. We had won with Tomczak and Fuller. That's all we needed to do is stay with that plan. Then you bring a guy off the street."
In 1987, the Bears again lost a home playoff game to the Redskins, this one with McMahon under center. In 1988, they lost the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field to the Joe Montana-led 49ers, and the Bears' run was over.
Still, the 1985 team remains one of the most celebrated in NFL history, and Ditka didn't sound too worried about the barbs from his former defensive end.
"He's done it many times," he said. "I have no idea (why he's doing it again now)."
Later, Ditka reminisced more about his 1980s Bears on ESPN Radio.
"I thought we did a lot of good things," Ditka said. "We probably screwed up some things we could have done better. But I don't know if that was one of them. ...
"Could we have won more? Of course, we could have, but we didn't. I thought the move to get Flutie -- I don't care what the results were -- was a great move. Doug Flutie was a winner. He was a winner his whole career. He was a tough guy, he played good. ... At the moment we made those decisions, we thought they were the right decisions."