Chicago Bears legend Mike Ditka spoke out against President Barack Obama on Thursday and said Donald Trump would get his vote if Election Day were Friday.
Nick Schwartz of Fox Sports passed along comments the former tight end and outspoken coach made during an appearance on WABC's The Bernie and Sid Show on Thursday.
"Obama's the worst president we've ever had," Ditka said. "Barack Obama's a fine man. I mean, he's pleasant. He would be great to play golf with. He's not a leader. This country needs leadership. It needs direction. It needs somebody that steps up front. We need somebody like Ronald Reagan."
Schwartz noted Republican political leaders in Illinois tried to recruit Ditka to run against Obama in the 2004 Senate race, but he didn't and said it was his "biggest mistake."
As for Trump, who's emerged as the front-runner on the GOP side of the 2016 presidential race, Ditka didn't provide a full endorsement, but he told The Bernie and Side Show he feels the New York businessman and former reality show host is the best candidate in the group:
There's a lot of qualified people that are better than [Hillary Clinton]. That's what I'm trying to say. You know, you've got to pick your poison. Does Donald do everything right? No. The people that hate him, hate him, but people like him because he says things that resonate with what they think.... If I were to vote tomorrow, I'd probably vote for Trump.
The comments by Ditka, who works for ESPN, come after the company laid out specific guidelines for political remarks during the campaign. Patrick Stiegman of ESPN Front Row provided the details:
We should refrain from political editorializing, personal attacks or "drive-by" comments regarding the candidates and their campaigns. Approved commentaries on sports-specific issues, or seeking responses from candidates on relevant news issues, are appropriate. However perceived endorsements should be avoided. (In others cases guidelines on social media, acceptable commentary and political advocacy should prevail).
Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated doesn't think the company should punish Ditka for the remarks, though:
Again, given so many ESPN-ers are doing this on both sides of the aisle, there should be no discipline. https://t.co/QvYZysq7y2— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) March 4, 2016
Ultimately, the presidential race is going to receive a massive amount of attention for the next nine months, so preventing personalities from discussing it would be a tough task. That's especially true for somebody like Ditka, who's never afraid to speak his mind.
The question is whether ESPN believes his comments crossed the line under its standards.