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Ditka Coaching Tree Sprouts Leaves

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Carolina's hire of Ron Rivera, San Francisco's pick up of Jim Harbaugh and the removal of the interim tag from Leslie's Frazier title in Minnesota put several former Bears in the spotlight. They joined Jeff Fisher, head coach of the Tennessee Titans, as branches on the Mike Ditka coaching tree.

    Rivera and Frazier both won Super Bowl rings with Ditka as members of the prolific 1985 team.

    Rivera, a linebacker who had 7.5 sacks for the Bears during his career, also coached for two different stints with the Bears. Frazier, a cornerback who was known for interceptions and getting injured on the opening play of the Super Bowl, put in his time as an assistant coach before taking over the Vikings after Brad Childress was fired. He guided the drama-filled Vikings to a 3-3 record, and even helped out the Bears when Minnesota beat the Eagles late in the season, ensuring Chicago the second seed in the playoffs.

    Harbaugh came after the Super Bowl, but still quarterbacked the Bears to four playoff appearances, and was the head coach at Stanford before he took over for another former Bear, Mike Singletary. Fisher earned a Super Bowl ring, though he didn't play in 1985 after his career was ended by another prolific coach -- Bill Cowher.

    Ditka's hardly the first to plant a coaching tree, as legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh is best known for starting young coaches careers. But Ditka's impact on his former players is shown by their continued loyalty to him. Now, he gets to continue to impact the game as a new generation of his players turn into the NFL's head coaches.