Mike Ditka, coach of the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears, says he's glad to see the last of Buddy Ryan on his side of the field and accuses his former defensive coordinator of playing favorites and hogging credit for the Bears' success.
But is Ditka "elated" that Ryan is gone?
"I'm not happy he's gone, I'm elated," Ditka was quoted by the Associated Press in Chicago.
Then, reached at Philadelphia International Airport on his way to make a speech, Ditka said (according to United Press International), "That's Chicago. That's not what I said. I didn't say I was 'elated' to be rid of him. I said it was going to be a new challenge."
"Never again in history will an assistant coach get as much credit as Buddy did," the AP quoted Ditka as saying before his trip. "I handled it well. It will be interesting to see how he handles it now that he's the head coach."
Ryan, who put together the Bears' vaunted "46" defense, left the Bears shortly after their 46-10 Super Bowl victory over New England to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ryan made it clear he feels Ditka was fortunate to have him. "I should be so lucky to have a Buddy Ryan around," he said. "I'd like to have somebody around to take care of me."
But Ryan said the Bears have such a weak schedule next season, they have a good shot at another NFL title. Among their games is one at Soldier Field with the Eagles, 7-9 last season.
Ditka said Ryan had a "buddy-buddy system" and played favorites.
"I believe in playing the best 11 players," said Ditka. "I don't believe in having favorite players. I want challenges, not preconceived situations. I want everybody to have a chance to play."
He also said Ryan took more than his share of the credit. "He took a lot of bows and I let him take them," said Ditka. "But he didn't let any of his assistants take any bows."
Richard Dent, who progressed in three years from a lowly ninth-round draft choice to Super Bowl MVP under the tutelage of Ryan, said he hopes Ryan's departure doesn't mean the Bears will switch to the 3-4 defense.
"It's like (teammate) Dan Hampton said: 'Replacing Buddy Ryan is like replacing John Wayne in a movie,' " Dent said in New York, where he was receiving the car he won for his Super Bowl performance . . .
Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann has apologized to Jim McMahon for remarks about the Bears quarterback's image.
"First, I have to say I overreacted to the situation," he told a WDVM-TV-9 camera crew at Redskin Park. "It's not my position to make a decision what another athlete does in the National Football League. I was completely wrong in making all those statements. I guess I got a little envious, a little jealous of the fact that (McMahon) could do such a great job of advertising."
At a dinner Monday in Hamilton, Ontario, Theismann had said McMahon should "remember where he is. If it weren't for football, he'd be some yo-yo out there drinking beer . . . I sure wouldn't want my kids growing up like him." . . .
The Detroit Lions have placed several players in treatment programs for drug dependency, although owner William Clay Ford says the club has no major drug problems. He declined to disclose the number involved or when the rehabilitation was.
"I've got to respect confidentiality," Ford told the Detroit News. "We sent them to treatment centers, and, I might add, with very little fanfare and very good end results." . . .
The Jets will remain in New Jersey, and New York will look elsewhere for an NFL team to play in a proposed domed stadium, the Urban Development Corp. said in New York City. The team's owner, Leon Hess, insisted that "the state and city build the stadium at taxpayers' expense and the state and city have said no," according to Urban Development Corp. Chairman Vincent Tese . . .
Fresno State Coach Jim Sweeney confirmed he has talked with the St. Louis Cardinals about their coaching vacancy.