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."
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.
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.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!