1) The poor play of his offense in general and Shuler in particular, both ranked 30th in the league. The jury remains out on Shuler, but regardless of who's at quarterback, Ditka knows the offense won't go anywhere until shortcomings on the line are addressed in the off-season.
2) The atmosphere in the Saints' locker room. "These are great guys," Ditka says. "They're just awfully quiet. Nobody talks. I've used all of my speeches, all my Knute Rocknes, but I don't know if they're working."
3) The amount of energy he has exerted. I didn't realize how tired I could get mentally," he says.
Despite whispers around the league that frustration would lead him to call it quits after this season, Ditka will be back for Year 2. Three weeks ago he and Kuharich spent four hours formulating off-season plans.
Mike Shanahan has won more regular-season games than any NFL coach over the past two seasons, but one battle he feels he'll never win is a financial dispute with his former boss, Raiders owner Al Davis. That's why Shanahan, coach of the 9-2 Broncos, has given up trying to collect the $250,000 he says Davis owes him under the contract Shanahan signed to become the Raiders' coach in 1988. Though the league has ruled in his favor, Shanahan this week will ask that Davis instead donate the money—plus interest—to the Oakland Unified School District. "It's a lot of money, but I'd rather see it go to the schoolchildren of Oakland," Shanahan says. "It's time to move on."
The $250,000 is what Shanahan says he was due when Davis fired him four games into the '89 season. According to Shanahan, Davis told him the money would be forthcoming—unless Shanahan took a job with the Broncos, for whom he had worked as an assistant before being hired by Davis. When Shanahan objected, he says Davis told him, "If I don't want to pay you, it'll cost you more money going through the court system than the money you'll get from the contract."
Each side presented its case at an arbitration hearing conducted by the NFL in Los Angeles in 1990, and the league ruled in Shanahan's favor. Davis appealed, and last week the league said it was still awaiting a reply from Shanahan's lawyers.
"This is a new twist, and it's as ridiculous as all the others," Raiders chief executive Amy Trask says of the coach's demand. " Mr. Shanahan had his day in court, so to speak, where we found proof that [ Shanahan and the Broncos] had perjured themselves."
Trask declined to elaborate on the perjury accusation, other than to say, "Since we presented proof that he and the Broncos perjured themselves, we haven't heard a peep from Shanahan, the Broncos or the NFL." Asked on Monday about the Raiders' charge, Shanahan laughed.