Last Thursday CBS Sports hired recently fired Saints coach Mike Ditka as an NFL Today studio analyst. Ditka will earn $450,000 this year. There's something about a coach with a Super Bowl ring that network executives can't resist (Ditka, of course, earned his as boss of the 1985 Bears.) Bill Walsh and George Seifert, both former 49ers coaches, parlayed their rings into studio gigs with NBC and CBS, respectively. Then someone realized that each had the on-air charisma of salt.
Two-time Super Bowl victors Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells, colorful sideline generals and retired from the Dolphins and the Jets, respectively, were also rumored to be in the running for studio gigs—as was the most recent Super Bowl winner-retiree, the Rams' Dick Vermeil. While Vermeil was a terrific college football analyst for ABC and CBS, the other two, like Ditka, got mixed reviews in network stints. During his previous TV tour of duty, as an analyst for NBC from '93 to '97, Ditka only occasionally bared his pungent personality.
Last week Ditka eulogized his old Cowboys coach, Tom Landry, for giving him "a second chance as a player and a first chance as a coach." It would be refreshing to see Ditka and his brethren follow the playbook of Landry, who never ventured into network broadcasting. Unless you have something to say and are willing to say it—as Jerry Glanville does for CBS—stay out of the studio. Or become a reporter on the sideline. After all, that's where you did your best work.