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Former Pitt tight end Mike Ditka speeks to the media after talking to the Panther football team of the South Side Oct. 22, 2008.

Future Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka’s first professional football contract was for … $12,000.

“I was the (fifth) player picked in the draft — $12,000 with a $6,000 signing bonus,” Ditka told Gus Frerotte during the second part of this week’s “Huddle Up with Gus” podcast.

Ditka recalls playing at Pitt, where he was named an All-American in 1960 before being drafted by the Chicago Bears.

“I figured I’d play linebacker when I got to the pros,” Ditka said. “They drafted me, and I went and met (team owner George) Halas, and he said, ‘You’re going to play tight end.’ I said, ‘What the hell is a tight end?’”

Ditka caught 56 passes for 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns — the yards and TDs ended up being career highs.

“I made All-Pro, and the next year (Halas) wanted to pay me $14,000. I said, Coach, that’s taking a cut. I said I wouldn’t sign for a penny less than $18,000. As I soon as I said it, he opened the drawer and had a contract for $18,000.”


Coming Wednesday: Part 3 with Mike Ditka

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