Mike Ditka on the 49ers: Jim Harbaugh Doesn’t Care What You Think

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka and Tom Jackson previewed today’s NFL action with Suzy Kolber, analysts Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Some excerpts from today’s show:

On the Cowboys tragedy…

Jackson: “The thing that comes to my mind is how the NFL is a microcosm of society. I know that we’re always shocked because we keep our professional athletes up on a pedestal. We think that they’re different than everyday people who are walking around out there. But if you look at this season, we have had constant reminders… everything that goes on out there goes on in the National Football League as well.”

Carter: “In the National Football League, they go to the max as far as the amount of money that they spend on the substance abuse program. I know this personally. I was involved in the program for my whole career, alright. I know the type of information. There are no excuses, alright. It comes down to decisions… Roger Goodell: There’s only one answer for all of this. The only thing the players now, the modern-day athlete understands is take him off the field.”

Ditka: “I regretfully say that we’ve all probably done something like this. We probably drove while we’re impaired. Why? Because we’re bulletproof. It’s a mentality. It can never happen to us. We’re invincible. Nothing bad can happen until it does happen.”

Berman: “Everybody’s hearts are out to the family and loved ones of Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown.”

Keyshawn Johnson joins Sunday NFL Countdown from Tampa Bay, where he, his former Buccaneers teammates and Jon Gruden gather for the 10-year anniversary celebration of their Super Bowl win…

Johnson: “Every player in the National Football League and any sport for that matter, Boom, they want to go out on top, they want to win a World Championship. And I think as a collective, as a group, our defense was dominant, but our offense clicked at the right time. We were able to pull things together, and we were able to deliver that World Championship to the city of Tampa.”

Gruden talked about his former players and what he remembers about the championship season in this Front Row video.

On the Pittsburgh Steelers – are they a serious playoff contender with Ben Roethlisberger?

Carter: “Of course they are. Ever since the Commissioner introduced the Miami of Ohio quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, they can win any football game.”

Jackson: “When you look at everything that they do, I think they’re not only playoff contenders, I think if they get in and Ben is healthy, I think they could make a run.”

On the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Washington Redskins – who wins?

Carter: “I like the confidence the Redskins defense can gain from last week’s game: shuttin’ people down in the fourth quarter, which they haven’t been doing all season. RG3, he’s must-see TV. I’m goin’ with the Skins.”

On the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the San Diego Chargers – who wins?

Ditka: “This is very simple. The Chargers have forgot how to win. Steelers.”

On the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Cincinnati Bengals…

Ditka: “One thing to watch: Cowboys’ D. Can they get lined up properly? Can they tackle anybody with their secondary? And can they cover anybody? That’s the key to this football game.”

On the Indianapolis Colts and rookie Andrew Luck – how far can they go?

Carter: “It’s a great story… but they’re the only team, when you get down to the bricks and mortar, they’re the only team with a winning record that’s given up more points than they’ve scored.”

Jackson: “First year that a freshman won the Heisman Trophy, may be the first year that a rookie wins the Super Bowl.”

Ditka: “What’s he done to the football team? He’s made them believe that nothing’s impossible.”

On the San Francisco 49ers quarterback situation…

Ditka: “Jim Harbaugh doesn’t care what you think or I think or Tom or anybody else thinks. I mean, he’s made a decision based on what he thinks is best for his football team. He’s a pretty stubborn guy, but he’s a pretty good evaluator of talent.”

Jaworski: “Clearly, two outstanding quarterbacks, but I think the ceiling is so high for (Colin) Kaepernick, that’s why Harbaugh stays with him.” 

On Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco vs. Washington Redskins quarterback RG3…

Jaworski: “At the end of the day you gotta win. Joe Flacco has won… I bet you guys buy a new car every year because you like the next best thing. I’m serious. I like my quarterback slow and steady. Joe Flacco was one dropped ball last season by Lee Evans from having whole different perspective. They would be a Super Bowl team.”

Ditka: “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas. That was last year. Nobody cares about it. Hey, both of these guys are two of the most talented guys in the League. I like the leadership of the guy in Washington. That’s what I like.”

On Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo…

Jaworski: “To me he’s Harry Houdini in the pocket. You know, the great escape artist.”