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Mike Ditka Comments on Barack Obama and 2004 Senate Race

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 07: Former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka (C) presents U.S. President Barack Obama (L), with a team jersey, while flanked by Defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan (R), and other members of the the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears, on the south lawn of the White House, on October 7, 2011 in Washington, DC. President Obama who is a Bears fan, realized the team never got to enjoy the customary ceremony given to the champions of the season, and invited the team to the White House.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Tim KeeneyContributor IOctober 14, 2013

Once upon a time, one of the more beloved figures in all of football had a chance to take on the future President of the United States in a political campaign.

And he declined, a decision he now severely regrets. 

Back in 2004, three-time Super Bowl champion and NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka opted not to run against Barack Obama in the 2004 Illinois Senate race. 

Recently, he spoke out about that decision to the Dickinson Press, via the Chicago Tribune:

"Biggest mistake I've ever made," Ditka said, according to the Dickinson Press newspaper. "Not that I would have won, but I probably would have and he wouldn't be in the White House."

WASHINGTON - JUNE 26:  During a congressional hearing on the National Football League's system for compensating retired players, Hall of Fame tight end and head coach Mike Ditka listens to testimony June 26, 2007 in Washington, DC. Former players and coac
Win McNamee/Getty Images

You can never say for sure how the votes would have swung, but Ditka, the self-proclaimed "ultra-ultra-ultra-conservative" at the time, per USA Today's DeWayne Wickham, certainly has a good amount of popularity in the state of Illinois.        

The fifth pick in the 1961 draft, he played for the Bears for the first six seasons of his career and eventually became head coach in 1982, leading Chicago to a 106-62 overall record and a dominant Super Bowl run during the 1985 season. 

Athletes and actors have won political office spots before, so Ditka coming out victorious wasn't completely out of the question.  

Still, the current President of the United States was extremely popular and had a significant advantage over the former football star in political experience. He ended up beating GOP candidate Alan Keyes, who received a meager 27 percent of the vote

Jan 31, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; From left Trent Dilfer , Jerry Rice , Mike Ditka and Cris Carter pose for a photo during the ESPN analysts press conference at the New Orleans Convention Center in preparation for Super Bowl XLVI to be played between th
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Could the legendary Ditka realistically have stopped Obama, a longtime Bears fan, from eventually winning the White House? Or was this just "Da Coach's" way of saying "C'Mon Man!" to Mr. President?

We may never know the answer, but it's hard to imagine Ditka is too upset about currently getting paid by ESPN as an NFL analyst after such a decorated and storied career in the league. 

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