This Day in College Football History – October 18th

Mike Ditka, Jr. (born October 18, 1939) is a former football NFL player, television commentator, and coach. Ditka coached the Chicago Bears for 11 years and New Orleans Saints for three years. Ditka and Tom Flores are the only two people to win Super Bowls as a player, an assistant coach, and a head coach. Ditka was the only individual to participate in both of the last two Chicago Bears’ championships, as a player in 1963 and as head coach in 1985.

Ditka was born as Michael Dyczko in the Pittsburgh-area town of Carnegie, Pennsylvania on October 18, 1939. The oldest child of Mike Sr. and Charlotte, he grew up in nearby Aliquippa, Pennsylvania with siblings Ashton, David, and Mary Ann. Mike Sr., a welder, was one of three brothers of a Ukrainian family in the coal mining and steel manufacturing area in Western Pennsylvania. The surname “Dyczko” was difficult to pronounce in his hometown, so the family name was changed to “Ditka.” Ditka attended St. Titus School.

A three-sport star at Aliquippa High School, Ditka hoped to escape his hometown’s manufacturing jobs by attending college with a football scholarship. Planning to become a dentist, he was recruited by Notre Dame, Penn State, and University of Pittsburgh. Ditka played for the University of Pittsburgh from 1958–1960. He started all three seasons and is widely considered one of the best tight ends in college football history. In addition to playing tight end, he also served as the team’s punter. He led the team in receiving in all three of his seasons with them and was a first team selection on the College Football All-America Team in his senior year. In 1986, he was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

The Chicago Bears drafted Ditka fifth overall in the 1961 NFL Draft, while the Houston Oilers drafted him eighth overall in the first round in the 1961 AFL Draft. He signed with the Bears and his presence was immediately felt. In his first season, Ditka had 58 receptions, introducing a new dimension to a tight end position that had previously been dedicated to blocking. His success earned him Rookie of the Year honors. He continued to play for the Bears for the next five years, earning a Pro Bowl trip each season. He played on the 1963 NFL championship team. Many of the players from that team, including Ditka, were drafted by assistant coach George Allen, a future Hall of Famer, who was then in charge of the Bears drafts. Ditka was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1967, where he spent two seasons, before being shipped off to the Dallas Cowboys in 1969. He spent four seasons with the Cowboys, highlighted by a touchdown reception in the Cowboys’ 24–3 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.

In 1988 Ditka was the first tight end ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 1999, he was ranked number 90 on The Sporting News’s list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.

Joe Eugene Routt ((1914-10-18)October 18, 1914 — December 10, 1944(1944-12-10)) was a football player and World War II soldier.

Jo Routt attended Texas A&M from 1933 to 1938 and received a degree in animal husbandry. As a guard on the football team, Routt was named to the All-American football teams of 1936 and 1937. He was the first All-American player for A&M. He played on the 1938 College All-Star team in Chicago and in the East-West Shrine Game at San Francisco. Routt was a 3rd round selection (16th overall pick) by the Cleveland Rams in the 1938 NFL Draft.

Routt was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation from A&M and went on active duty in the United States Army in March 1942. In 1942 he played for the Army West All-Star football team against professional football teams. As an infantry officer in World War II he received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He was a captain and company commander in Holland when he was killed in action on December 10, 1944. He was buried at Margraten, Netherlands. On April 19, 1949, he was reburied at Brenham, Texas. Routt was married to Marilyn Maddox on March 1, 1942 and they had two daughters. He was named to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1952 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1962.

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