Mike Ditka is known for having “opinions”. The Chicago Bears’ legendary player and coach recently gave his opinion on why Matthew Stafford has struggled to lead the Detroit Lions past being a playoff bubble team. Ditka, now an ESPN football analyst, thinks it comes down to leadership which is reflected in appearance.
For the record, Mike Ditka truly believes Matthew Stafford is a fantastic talent. And Stafford’s relationship with Calvin Johnson is undeniable. The two have developed into one of the more formidable quarterback to wide receiver connections in the NFL. But there has always been a piece of the puzzle missing. Lions fans (and fantasy football owners) know about the turnovers. Leadership does seem to be missing from the Detroit locker room.
Ditka believes that Stafford’s tendency to wear his hat backwards points to a bigger issue. It’s not just about style or comfort, it’s about leading a football team. And the laid back, casual attitude of a turned ball cap gives off the impression of “we don’t care”. At least, that is Ditka’s impression.
“I think he can make all the throws. He’s a smart kid. I wish he’d put the baseball cap on frontwards instead of backwards all the time. I’m not knocking him. I’m just saying that’s the first thing I would tell him if I inherited him. When you’re going to go do an interview, put it on like it’s supposed to be on, not backwards, sidewards, whatever way they put them on anymore.”
While a backwards hat may not be the cause of the Detroit Lions’ struggles, it is an interesting observation. Mike Ditka is not afraid of having a little fun, as seen in his recent wrecking ball spoof. And remember, he was the coach of the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears. Yes, the same Bears team that brought us the Super Bowl shuffle.
Even Ditka’s quarterback in those years, Jim McMahon, made headlines in the 80’s trying to bring the headband to the NFL (we can all agree we’re glad that didn’t catch on). The difference for Ditka is that McMahon played with fire and passion. In Stafford, he sees a great talent, but that intangible piece seems to be lacking.
Detroit Lions fans would probably disagree with the coach (and not just because they are division rivals). They would most likely point to the interceptions or the fumbles for the reasons why Stafford is not a real leader. Or possibly the inability to take over games at the end when they possess one of the greatest weapons in football, Megatron.
What do you think about the Mike Ditka comment to Matthew Stafford? Does the way he wears his hat really matter?