Mike Ditka is one of only two men to have won NFL championships as player, assistant coach, and coach. He is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and has made a fortune through the game and as a pitchman and TV analyst.
But Ditka wishes he had done one other thing in life: running for Senate in 2004 against a young Barack Obama.
"Biggest mistake I’ve ever made,” the Chicago Bears great said at an oil company ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Dickinson (N.D.) Press reported.
Ditka, now 73, says he is not sure he would have beaten Obama, "but I probably would have, and he wouldn’t be in the White House."
Ditka has described himself as an "ultra-ultra-ultra conservative."
He was tapped to run for the Illinois Senate seat vacated by Republican Peter Fitzgerald after GOP nominee Jack Ryan withdrew amid a sex scandal. In the end, Obama beat Alan Keyes in a landslide.
Ditka's popularity in Illinois was not lost on the man he wishes he had run against.
“He’s enormously popular,” Obama said at the time. “I think if he gets in, he immediately becomes a favorite.”
Two years ago, Ditka had a cordial visit with Obama at the White House, presenting him with a Bears jersey as his former team celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Super Bowl victory.
The team's scheduled 1986 White House visit was scotched after the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster.
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