A lot was made last week of Mike Ditka’s return to the Chicago Bears practice field – reportedly for the first time since his unceremonious dismissal at the hands of the mighty Michael McCaskey. And while I don’t put much stock in symbolic motivation and rah rah speeches, I do recognize the importance of 2013 in the Bears life of Ditka. The final chapter of Da Coach’s sporting biography in this city began last week on the practice field and will conclude with his jersey number being locked in the great safe of immortality on Monday night, December 9th.
Marc Trestman is the anti-Ditka. He is polite. He is genial. He is cerebral to the point of nerdiness. Whereas Ditka’s Grabowski act endeared him to every bar stool Joe on the South Side, Trestman has emerged from an offensive system foreign to this land and a resume with international flavor. Ditka was pulled over for one of the most famous DUIs in Chicago history. Trestman looks like he’s never tasted alcohol. On the surface one would find it very hard to see the new head coach as a match for the broad shouldered town he is now tasked with providing their first Super Bowl title in almost thirty years.
That’s the book’s cover. The pages tell a different tale.
Marc Trestman is a football lifer. He didn’t have a father entrenched in the coaching world like so many of the prominent names in coaching seem to have. He had his own football acumen and an astounding work ethic. After playing some college quarterback in the state of Minnesota, he spent twenty years coaching every position possible on the offensive side of the game.
He was successful – again and again – but constantly feuded with head coaches whom Trestman (without admitting it) must have believed he was smarter than. He wanted his own team, his own franchise. More than wanting it he believed it was deserved. When it didn’t come in the United States, Trestman found the position in Montreal. And what did he do? He won. A lot.
Trestman’s ascension to head coach of one of the most prominent teams in all of sports is a testament to both his intelligence and, more importantly, his tenacity. He won’t bark and scowl at the media like Ditka famously did. He won’t be shilling for car dealerships and chunky soup. He won’t be opening a steakhouse…yet. He will coach football because other than being a successful husband and father, that’s all Trestman knows how to do.
At fifty-seven years old Trestman has achieved his life’s dream and his storyline should be the type of tale fathers and mothers tell their kids. It ain’t always going to be easy, this life. Getting what you want is pretty damn hard. And sometimes you have to get off the highway and take the back roads to reach your desired location. Sometimes those back roads are in Canada.