Football legend Mike Ditka took center stage in a TV ad for Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner during the Chicago Bears home game on Sunday.
Ditka filmed the commercial with Rauner at the Hall of Famer’s Near North Side Restaurant in the Windy City, according to The Chicago Tribune
The ad, which opens with a scene of his restaurant from the street, aired twice during the NFL game against the Buffalo Bills and cost Rauner’s campaign $90,000.
“You know what I like about you Bruce? You’re tough. You attack the special interests. Bam,” says Ditka in the ad, as he punches the palm of one hand with his fist. “Hit ‘em right in the mouth.”
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Rauner, who faces Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in the November election, replies: “Well, you know, Coach, I been thinking. Maybe I’ve been too hard on those guys.”
Ditka, currently an ESPN analyst, appears stunned by the candidate’s statement, before Rauner smiles and adds, “You’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking.”
The ad wraps up with Ditka declaring: “Yeah, stick to the game plan, Bruce. Stick to the game plan.”
Ditka, who played for the Bears as a tight end and was the team’s coach for 11 seasons, was not paid for the spot, said Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf.
The former Bears coach is a staunch conservative who’s known to speak his mind and once considered becoming a politician himself, according to The Tribune.
Ditka recently became embroiled in the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins, by attacking the "liberals" and "politically correct idiots" who are calling for the NFL team to change its name
because it's considered by some to be a racial slur offensive to Native Americans.
“This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is,” he said.
In 2004, Ditka thought about entering politics when Republican nominee Jack Ryan dropped out of the Illinois Senate race after the divorce records involving his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, came to light.
Although he considered taking over from Ryan in the race against the Democratic nominee Barack Obama, Ditka said he had a change of heart when he found that his broadcasting career and his healthy list of endorsement deals might have been affected. Obama went on to win the Senate seat and become president.
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