Ditka's biggest regret: Not running against Obama
October 9th, 2013
06:22 PM ET
12 months ago

Ditka's biggest regret: Not running against Obama

Washington (CNN) - He's one of Chicago's most beloved citizens, a former star player who later led the NFL Bears to a Super Bowl title as coach.

But Mike Ditka's biggest regret? Losing a 1986 playoff game that could have propelled the “Monsters of the Midway” to back-to-back championships. No.


It was his decision to not throw his hat into the 2004 U.S. Senate race and challenge a then little-known state senator, Barack Obama.

Speaking to a crowd of 100 in Watford, North Dakota, earlier this month, “da coach” expressed his regret over his political non-campaign.

"Biggest mistake I've ever made," Ditka said of the decision. "Not that I would have won, but I probably would have and he wouldn’t be in the White House."

After GOP front runner Jack Ryan withdrew from the contest, prominent state and national Republicans, including then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and former Sen. George Allen, tried to recruit "Iron Mike" to run for the open seat.

Ditka declined, citing obligations to his chain of steakhouses and duties at ESPN.

"Five [or] six years ago, I would have jumped on it," Ditka told CNN in 2004 after announcing he would not enter the race. "I would have ran with it and I know this - that I would make a good senator because I'm for the people."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Former NFL star with concussion related dementia... Poor guy.

    October 9, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  2. Boehner Is a Cr(y)uz Baby

    boo hoo hoo, cry me a river....there are so many mini Obama's waiting in the wings to run right now...put your hat in the ring and run right now if you can WIN, NOT!!!!

    OBAMA is going NOWHERE....it's his time....God ordained time for your bible loving Teabagging conservatives. LMAO!!!!

    October 9, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Ditka would have been a lot better choice than what we have........no doubt about THAT!

    October 9, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  4. boungiorno

    obviously he had more important things to do

    October 9, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  5. The Ham

    Da Coach...

    Couldn't have done any worse than any current Senator or Congressman... that's for sure...

    October 9, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  6. Tampa Tim

    Ditka is full of it! The way he followed Sarah Palin around FL, was sickening. He shows what can happen when you take too many hits to the head. Go Buccaneers!

    October 9, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  7. mike

    Nice thought iron mike but I fear it wouldn't have made a difference. You would have been outnumbered on all sides. I have believed for a long time now that there was a plan by people with big resources to put this president in office several years before the congressional election you mentioned. I'm certain you would have made a good senator. Maybe you should try again in 2014.

    October 9, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  8. Name

    It's not too late, go run now in 2014 and see how campaign works ok

    October 9, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  9. NameTA

    another great american that hates the weirdo and stooge obama

    October 9, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  10. Don, Toronto

    I am sorry but America would not need another triggeer happy loud mouth hot head who think more highly of himself than he is to be president. Mike you were an okay coach for a while and you are now an okay analyst, those are your callings in life so don't have any regrets. President Obama is fulfilling his calling as a president for the people and not multi-billion dollar corporations that have and are shipping/outsourcing jobs to make mega-profits at the expense of Americans. One question Mike Dikta, "Are the equipment and furniture in your chain of steak houses made in the USA or by cheap labor in China?"

    October 9, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  11. Independent

    I should have ran also. Why do sports stars, actors And anyone in the media think they should be in office? It should be regular joes in office that have real world experience of living pay check to pay check. They know what average American goes through and what to change.

    October 9, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  12. Winston Smith

    Mike! Mike!! Mike!!! Do you honestly believe you are the person, America is needing to run the day to day affairs of government. What an ego you possess. How beaten you'd have been, had you ran.

    October 9, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  13. Laverne

    Stick to your sausages dough boy! Some people never want to miss an opportunity to be heard or seen. If your republicans buddies don't get their crap together your little steakhouses will feel the financial pinch too and I am sure that is what's driving your crazy talk!!!

    October 9, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  14. Woman In California

    Say the first three letters of his name slowly. They correctly identify what he is and I will never forget the way he treated the late/great, Walter Payton and neither will millions of others.

    October 9, 2013 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  15. Doc1

    Too much Traumatic Brain Injury from his days of playing tight end.

    October 9, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  16. Catmandew

    We all wish you had run because your right! You'd have won and Obama would be back home still not in the White House destroying our country!

    October 9, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  17. Claire

    Yeah, mccain, romney, palin, ryan, all thought the same thing.

    October 9, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  18. Wake up People!

    Really Ditka? You're a football player. But enough idiots probably would have voted for you. I wouldn't.

    October 9, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  19. Thomas

    Mike Ditka / Jesse Ventura 2016

    BRING IT ON !

    October 9, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  20. Nick2014

    He would have lost like he did most of his career. He won One Superbowl with one of the most talented teams ever. He lost a lot of games with the Saints. He is lucky he has a cult following in Chicago, that's it.

    October 9, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  21. Thomas

    Ann Coulter / Mke Ditka

    In the current fight over the government shutdown, Republicans are simply representing the views of the American people ?

    October 9, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  22. Maripil

    Mike Ditka is another clown full of idiotic ideas!!

    October 10, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  23. Maripil

    I don't trust Mike Ditka much less eat at his steakhouse! NO WAY!!! He is so full of himself!!

    October 10, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  24. Maripil

    Mike Ditka is a LOSER!!!

    October 10, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |