In case you haven't already heard, "Iron" Mike Ditka was one of the toughest players ever to play in the NFL. He played with the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys during his career and epitomized how the tight end position should be played.
Ditka was drafted out of Pittsburgh by the Chicago Bears. And although few tight ends before him were threats in the receiving game, Ditka had an absurd rookie season, catching 56 passes for 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns, which earned him Rookie of the Year honors.
Ditka continued to find success with the Bears, making the All-NFL team four years in a row while not missing a single start in 84 games with Chicago. He excelled as a receiver as well as a blocker, and was known for being one of the toughest players around.
After being traded to the Eagles, Ditka struggled, but he finished off his career on a solid note with the Cowboys, even catching the final touchdown in Super Bowl VI.
Ditka's career stats as a tight end read 427 catches for 5,812 yards and 43 touchdowns, leading him to be the first tight end ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. Although Ditka's stats don't look overly impressive by today's standards, he paved the way for future stars by showing his dominance as a receiver and could also deliver crushing hits as a blocker.