Mike Ditka: I Could Have Stopped Obama
So says the guy who once pinned his hopes on Doug Flutie.
In an interview with the paper of record – no, not that paper of record; the Dickinson (North Dakota) Press – former Chicago Bears coach and Hall of Famer Mike Ditka said his decision not to run for the U.S. Senate against Barack Obama in 2004 was the “[b]iggest mistake [he] ever made.”
“Not that I would have won,” Ditka said, “but I probably would have and he wouldn’t be in the White House.”
So, wait. Ditka wouldn’t have won, but he probably would have, and, in any case, he would have derailed Barack Obama’s future presidential ambitions? So, it’s like the political equivalent of some sort of martial arts trick, where you punch a guy and then he dies six months later. Got it.
But, um, the biggest mistake you ever made, Coach? This Bears fan begs to differ. To quote Chicagoist:
And here we thought Ditka’s biggest mistake was not being able to win multiple Super Bowls with a Chicago Bears squad with the talent to at least three-peat. Or not give Walter Payton a chance to score a touchdown in Super Bowl XX. Or losing his players by sticking with Doug Flutie at quarterback. Or his landmark coaching stint in New Orleans.
In Flutie’s defense, he went on to have three solid years with the Buffalo Bills – but that was more than a decade later, after Flutie had had considerable experience in the CFL. More to the point, Ditka didn’t choose Flutie for his athletic prowess, he chose Flutie for sentimental reasons. Ditka wanted an anti-Jim McMahon, a guy who was clean cut (and Catholic, like the Coach), who, Ditka hoped, would pull of some Rudy-like heroics. It was, predictably, a disaster:
Flutie possessed a rocket arm-but only stood 5′ 8″ tall – a dwarf by NFL QB standards. In addition to his size limitations, trying to teach a new QB Chicago’s complicated offense in a few short weeks was suicide for the team. After the final four wins, Chicago finished 14-2, adding up to a remarkable two-year stretch record of 29-3. As a result, the Bears would face the Washington Redskins on January 3rd at Soldier Field. Washington was the NFC’s wildcard team, but a tough one to beat given their 12-4 regular season record.
The Bears entered the game as heavy favorites. During the bye week before the game, anxious fans wondered who Mike Ditka would choose to start at QB. Would he go with the experienced but unimpressive Mike Tomczak or Steve Fuller, or the newbie Flutie? In a move that divided the team, Ditka chose Flutie.
Chicago began the game against the Redskins by scoring an early Flutie to [wide receiver Willie] Gualt TD pass, tying the score at 7-7. It was all downhill after that, however, and Chicago lost 27-13.
That’s classic Ditka, leading with his heart. That’s what makes him pure Chicago, and what made him the consummate Chicago Bear. It’s also what makes him uniquely unqualified to offer political opinions, let alone actually hold an elective office. But, hey, we Chicagoans love him anyway.
[Photo Credit: Washington Post]