Mike Ditka Regrets Not Running Against Barack Obama

Mike Ditka says the biggest mistake he ever made was declining to run against Barack Obama for US Senate in 2004.

Obama won that election which was the stepping stone to the presidency.

Ditka, the NFL Hall of Famer who now is an ESPN analyst, was and still is hugely popular in Chicagoland and elsewhere. A tight end for the Chicago Bears from 1961 to 1966, he also led the Bears as head coach to a Super Bowl victory in 1986. Ditka and Tom Flores (formerly of the Oakland Raiders) are the only two people to win an NFL title as a player, an assistant coach, and a head coach.

During a recent visit to North Dakota, The Dickinson Press reports that Ditka had this to say about deciding against throwing his hat or helmet in the ring in 2004:

“Biggest mistake I’ve ever made. Not that I would have won, but I probably would have and [Obama] wouldn’t be in the White House.”

He also called North Dakota’s energy boom “fantastic” as long as the politicians “don’t screw it up.”

Given the success he has achieved on ESPN, Ditka said he was “the luckiest guy in the world.”

Added Ditka: “If somebody would have told me 40 years ago they’d pay you to be on TV, I would have said ‘You’re crazy.’ They pay me to be on TV and talk about something I like to talk about, football. That’s almost insane. Sometimes the guys on TV are insane, by the way.”

The 2004 Senate campaign in Illinois has an interesting history. Jack Ryan (not to be confused with the Tom Clancy character, but a real person) was considered a strong candidate to face off against whichever Democrat — which turned out to be Obama — emerged from the Democrat primary. Ryan, who was the ex-husband of actress Jerri Ryan, a.k.a. “Seven of Nine” on Star Trek: Voyager.

According to The Daily Caller, “But Ryan’s campaign never made it off the ground, dragged to its knees by a Chicago Tribune-led lawsuit that publicly revealed Ryan’s messy 1999 custody proceedings with actress and ex-wife Jeri Ryan. Those documents showed that Jeri Ryan claimed her wealthy husband, a former investment banker, had brought her to sex clubs around the globe, which led her to fall in love with another man… Under bipartisan pressure to leave the race, and with collapsing poll numbers, he soon stepped aside.”

There have been published claims that the Obama campaign behind the scenes pushed the Tribune into suing for those California divorce records.

When Ryan’s campaign imploded, the GOP tried to recruit Ditka, but after giving the run serious consideration, Ditka subsequently announced that he would not seek the nomination because of family and business commitments. Obama went on to defeat replacement GOP candidate Alan Keyes in a landslide.

Do you think that Mike Ditka would have made a good Senator?