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Ditka-isms Archives Randy's



One cannot possibly speak of Attitude without mentioning Coach Mike Ditka.

For that reason, DITKA-ISMS with tell it just like Da Coach did!
Besides, what is life without a good attitude?

I'm grateful to Jim Stamborski for giving me the OK to reprint Da Coach's finest words.



Collected by Jim Stamborski


From the time he became head coach of the Chicago bears, in January 1982, Chicago sports fans have recognized that Mike Ditka is something special. He is a skilled football coach and an excellent motivator. He also is a tough, plain-spoken son of a (Polish) Pennsylvania steel-worker who speaks from his heart as often as he does from his head. There is no ambiguity with Mike Ditka; something is right or it's wrong. Either way, he will let you know what the thinks, no holes barred.

Mike Ditka has described the Bears affectionately as his Grabowskis because the Bears reflect the work ethic, the attitude of a city and a people who aren't afraid to work hard to get ahead and achieve a part of the American Dream for themselves and their families.

This collection of quotes is dedicated to all peoples, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, who know what it means to work hard for a living and are fellow Grabowskis.


Mike Ditka at 1st press conference as Bears coach

I believe everyone has a destiny in life, and mine is with the Chicago Bears. I'm going to give Chicago a winning football team, an interesting football team, and a football team that everyone is going to be proud of.


I don't think we come in favor with some people. There are some teams that are fair-haired and some that aren't. There are some teams named Smith and some named Grabowski. We're Grabowskis. The Rams are a Smith team.

I am now and always will be a Ditka fan. He is solid as a rock, and a throwback to an era that I personally wish we could have back. Yet, presently I'm not as huge a Bear fan as I once was during the Ditka years because I am not comfortable with the Bear ownership.

I don't think it bothers Da Coach anymore. But he was definitely upset when Vainisi was fired and it seemed everything started to fall apart after that. The 85 Bears were one of the greatest sports teams ever. And they were extremely entertaining.

More at a future date...

Jim, A fellow Grabowski

In the move and looking at old pictures of me playing baseball, I remember that George Halas lived in my old home town of Des Plaines as did some of the McCaskeys, his grandson Pat played on the same team as I did. George Halas and his wife would occasionally come to the games, but it did not register with me then about what a giant he was in professional sports. Here was a man that founded the NFL, and I think he also played baseball with the Yankees. But Halas was cheap, and Ditka coined the phrase, "he throws nickels around like manhole covers." The Halas and McCaskeys had reputations in the town of being good down to earth people. Especially Halas. Ditka loved Halas like his own father in his years as a coach. So I feel for the Bears and hope they can turn the season around.

I don't go to the Bear conventions, but maybe someday I will. I hate to be a throw back to the old schoolers, but it was really wonderful when the Bears played at Wrigley Field.

Hope all is well with you,


Randy, my pleasure. If I had a brother, Mike Ditka would have been my choice. I know you feel the same way, because of his basic honesty. The CD's really summarized most of what I knew about him in his address to the businessman's convention. What I thought was really insightful is that he mentioned what "King Carl" his coach put over the entrance to the gym. Basically it was that a man that loses his character loses the most important thing in life. Mike Ditka is not perfect, and he has had moments in his past where I think he felt he didn't make the best decisions. However, what I lot of people don't realize is that he is a very, very intelligent person who knows how to correct his mistakes and has the ability to objectively criticize himself when he needs to, and then take corrective action. I was surprised when he said that he should have been fired by the Bears in his last season. Yet, I think he held back saying why he didn't give it his best effort.

As he said, " I can sit down and have a shot and a beer and discuss life with anyone." Probably a good quote to put in your bar.



First, I did get your excellent Salute and sent to about a dozen people that I know would appreciate it, thanks. Ditka talking about life and football always struck me. He has a knack for coming up with something short and sweet that it might take a college professor an hour to explain. Everyone in Chicago, and you didn't have to be Polish to appreciate it, knew when he said it was the Grabowski's versus the Smiths (Rams). You could have been Hispanic, Black, Korean or whatever and knew what exactly he meant. Chicago is a city of Big Shoulders, hard work, people constantly pushing that rock up the hill. L.A. equals glamor, glitz, Hollywood, the land of the fast buck and easy money.

When he replied to statement a reporter made about him not being Polish but Ukrainian, his comment was "Ukrainian, Polish, what's the difference?" It's a Eastern European attitude whether you are Polish, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Russian, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, and all the other nationalities thrown in. I've attempted to trace my family history and all of my grandparents came from the old Austro-Hungarian empire between 1910-1913. The Stamborski's lived in the mountainous region of present day Romania in a province called Bukovina. My father's father was born in Wygoda, which sounds Polish but is not in the Bukovina area. Someone told me that there are several villages named Wygoda in Poland. Since he died in 1940 and his wife in 1967, I really didn't have much information to go on. I thought my father mentioned being a Kashub.But again since he died in 1964, I didn't get a chance to get more information. Kashub is in the region of Gdansk, and I did come up with a Stamborski that was killed along with several thousand Poles in the region when the Nazis came in 1939.

I have a follow up book about Ditka you may not know about called "First a Bear;Now a Saint" that documented his Saint years. My publisher was in Florida and I was not really happy with the way the book turned out and (it came out in 1996". The first chapters are basically an abbreviated version of what is in "Don't Get Me Wrong." The last chapters of the Saint era document Ditka's frustration with his team. I think he incorrectly put the onus on himself for the Saints average seasons. Yet, in his heart I think he knew that free agency was the problem. Players no longer had loyalty to teams or the fans. And this was his Achilles heel. I think he eventually realized that some of the star players and the star players in the game, were only after the bucks.

It must have been a very painful realization for him the way he loved the game and the way he played the game. I think he really would have played for free. And by the way, old man Halas knew that and that's why he picked him as coach, surprising everyone. Maybe Halas was the prototype "Grabowski." Ditka the player was not real happy about the legendary cheapness of Halas. The quote, "He throws nickels around like manhole covers." that has gained acceptance in society, I'm pretty sure originated with Ditka describing Halas. Yet, he never forgot that Halas gave him his shot at fame and fortune. And was fiercely loyal to his boss.

I'm not sure about Ditka's motivation speech. But I will tell you that several years ago a friend told me that he would be in Miami dedicating the Baptist Hospital's Heart Institute. I went and attended his press conference, sitting in the first row. When it was time for questions I raised my hand. He called on me first. I gave him a two part question: Would you be interested in coaching the Dolphins if Shula retires? and I asked him to describe what he meant about players being ACE's. (Attitude, Character and Enthusiasm). He laughed about the Shula part and said something nice about Shula being a great coach and not being interested at the time. He really got into the ACE part. I think he used this for his motivation speech down the road. I had him sign my book for my son and he was fantastic, offering to come to Miami to attend our youth sports football program. It never happened because of my boss at the time. A real tragedy for the kids and community.

And I really get sick everytime I see Armen Ketanian on TV. He was the weasel that did the book about Ditka entitled "Monster of the Midway,"a real hatchet job I found to be inaccurate.

No problem critquing your website when you are ready to produce it. I like the idea of a Bear-Ditka bar in NE.


My “Salute” to Soldier Field

In the early sixties, I was just a scrawny little kid like my son Zach, full of adventure, wonder and excitement. I had just gotten my 1st Voit football and thought I could level anything in sight and pound out the yardage just like my hero, Mike Ditka. He had just done it on TV against Pittsburgh and now it was my turn out in the snow-covered gravel street with my buddies. To me, I was unstoppable and one of the best in the town of Farwell, NE. a small Polish community of 140 people. Little did I realize that a Chicago Bear fan was being shaped and molded. Little did I realize where that same spirit of adventure, wonder, and excitement would take me on a dark, cold, windy, night in Chicago. Forty years later, I would be the last fan out of the historic Soldier Field minutes before it would be secured and demolished for renovation at 12:00 A.M. January 21th, 2002.

Recently, I received a call from John S. Smith from Fremont and, until then, honestly felt I was the biggest Chicago Bear fan in the state. After visiting with John, I volunteered my ranking to 3rd, only to John and his brother. He wondered if I was going to get any stadium seats from Soldier Field prior to renovation. I couldn’t afford them but on the other hand, something told me I couldn’t afford not to.

Sunday, Zach and I arrived in Chicago around 9:30 p.m. I knew the approximate location because of my one and only game attendance back in ‘86 against the Lions. Now, at night, I knew the lights would lead me. Sure enough, the Lake Shore Dr. signs lead us right to the Field, aglow with lights as if the legends and heroes of today and past were leading their team, in the midst of the roaring thousands, on to victory. In awe and almost a reverence and with hardly a car or person in view, we followed the signs and slowly approached……………………………………Soldier Field.

As I exited in the direction of the lights I yelled to Zach, “there it is, Soldier Field.” I knew we were there. The signs said so…Exit Here…..Bear Chairs Pick Up……Begins 1/21/02, 9:00 AM…… Some day, hopefully sooner than later, he will appreciate our evening hours there. How proud and chilling was the feeling of slowly approaching the famous structure to be silently and boldly greeted by “Soldier Field………..Dedicated to the men and women of the Armed Forces.” Through renovation and improvements, I pray that entrance wall will still stand reminding all who the “real builders” of this complex are and why it was built and the “real cost” of the freedom we all experience.

I couldn’t believe we had just driven 500 miles and walked right into Soldier Field…. the holy ground of George Halas, Red Grange, Bronco Nagurski, Sid Luckman, Mike Ditka, Walter Payton, Brian Piccolo, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Doug Buffone, Coach of the Year Jauron, the McCaskey’s and the endless list of my Midway heroes. It was like visiting an old friend, one that I hadn’t seen in a long time and yet totally at home with despite the years being away. Actually, it was kind of sad. The stadium was majestic as ever, dignified, honorable, welcoming, and charming. It reminded me of the time I saw the original Howdy Doody “just hanging up” back stage after a show. He wasn’t up talking and bouncing around. His life was gone. Now, something is missing here.

Tonight I felt some life gone from this friend of mine that brought so much honor, excitement, controversy and pride to this Windy City. The hallways were empty, the roaring fans were silent, the radios were missing, the smell of brats and beer were gone, no warrior-painted faces and bodies, and no signs visible as the heavy equipment roared across the grass-less field. The keepers of the gate politely showed where my “out of bound” was. For a couple of more hours I stayed “in bounds” for fear of “stopping the clock.” I took some pictures, walked and drove around in silence, told Zach a few stories, and just absorbed the time, the many angled views of the famous columns and so many of them in and out, the history, the sight, the sounds, and wondering about my friend’s future. Speaking of friends, dad even came to mind. He and Soldier Field came into being the same year. Loving stories, I imagine he and Halas are exchanging them now. All the other doors were closed but I just drove around just hoping to find an open one. There weren’t but I didn’t want to miss a thing or a sight.

What made this time so precious was the silence other than the wind and faint bulldozer noises. The real noise was gone. I missed the crowds. I was missing the thrilling cheers of victory and the painful agony of a defeat just a few short hours ago. My time was coming. I knew I would have to say good-bye. Without Hope, good-byes are painful. I trust Soldier Field will live on in our hearts, minds and memories. That is what George Halas and all of those men and women of the armed services in whose honor this field was dedicated would have wanted…….to value, respect and honor Freedom, to give thanks for it and be willing to pay the price. I trust the renovated stadium will preserve much of the past and provide even more proud moments, sights, and sounds to add to an already great Bear history

My intention was to visit the stadium the night before just to find out where to get in line to pick up our little piece of Beardom. We came to wait out the night. The wait reminded me of a wake…………. Just being with and waiting with a friend with hope and anticipation. The gate-keepers were correct. Midnight happened and the ever bright, ever glistening stadium skylights dimmed. It was time to say goodnight and good-bye. I said goodnight full of adventure, wonder and excitement, and good-bye…………..but just for a couple years. In the meantime………….


Randy “Grabowski” Lukasiewicz


In 1985, when the world needed some heroes on the field, Mike Ditka and the Chicago Bears answered the call by having fun, doing the SHUFFLE, winning and winning and ultimately winning the Super Bowl. Off the field, Ditka created the famous, hard-working, “get the job done,” Grabowski’s. Now, twenty years later, THEY’RE BACK!

I recently asked Da Coach about the Grabowski’s. He commented that “If you can’t count on the Grabowski’s to get the job done, who CAN you count on.” That sums it up the need for the “Grabowski’s.”

Get the cap for yourself, family, friends and your organization, Be a Grabowski! Yes, the world needs love, but it also needs some more GRABOWSKI’s!

You may forget about the FARWELL ATHLETIC CLUB and Farwell, but remember what made them……………..FAITH, ATTITUDE and COMMUNITY.

Randy ‘Grabowski” Lukasiewicz

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