Mike Ditka Says Biggest Mistake Was Not Opposing Barack Obama in '04 Senate Race

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2013

In 2011, Mike Ditka and his 1985 Chicago Bears team were finally able to be honored at the White House for their championship-winning season over 25 years prior. The President of the United States and longtime Bears fan Barack Obama did the honor. At the time, Ditka said of the President, via the Associated Press (via ESPN), "On behalf of the 1985 Chicago Bears, we consider him one of us." 

Suffice it to say, the relationship between the two probably is no longer on the greatest of terms.

Speaking as an honorary guest of North Dakota oil company Canary in a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week in Watford City, Ditka opened up on the President and noted that one of his biggest regrets in life was deciding not to run for the Illinois Senate seat against Obama in 2004.

“Biggest mistake I’ve ever made,” Ditka said, per Amy Dalrymple of The Dickinson Press. “Not that I would have won, but I probably would have and he wouldn’t be in the White House.”

Ditka, whose conservative political views have never been a secret, was considered a leading candidate to represent the Republican Party in the 2004 election. The GOP was scrambling for a candidate at the time after initial nominee Jack Ryan withdrew from the race, leading the party to turn its eyes to Ditka, one of the most beloved figures in Chicago sports history.

Ditka ultimately opted not to run, citing his temper and inexperience with politics. 

"There was a moment when I said, God, I'd like to take this and run with it, and then I said, you know, put your head on straight and think about what you're getting into," Ditka told the Associated Press at the time. 

Obama would go on to handily defeat Alan Keyes in the 2004 election. He would serve on the seat nearly four years, resigning after defeating Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Obama, the first African-American president in United States history, is of course currently serving his second term.

Ditka, meanwhile, joined ESPN as an NFL analyst in 2004 and hasn't looked back. He's currently a regular panelist on the network's Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown shows, and has sporadic appearances on other programs throughout the network.

While Ditka seemed regretful that he never made it to the Senate floor, his speech also made it clear he's quite happy with his current profession.  

“If somebody would have told me 40 years ago they’d pay you to be on TV, I would have said ‘You’re crazy," Ditka said. "They pay me to be on TV and talk about something I like to talk about, football. That’s almost insane. Sometimes the guys on TV are insane, by the way.”

There is no word from the White House yet on Ditka's comments. Something tells me they might have more pressing issues at hand, though, so we might have to wait awhile to see what Da Prez says in response to Da Coach.


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