Hall of Fame Bears Coach Mike Ditka joined Dan & Amy to talk politics and the passing of Buddy Ryan. Ditka, an early Trump supporter, said despite media reports he has not been contacted about appearing at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month but, though he does not travel much anymore, he'll be there if Trump calls and asks him to be.
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Dan Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy, and Amy, as you know, I’ve been struggling with my golf game a little bit this summer. Amy Jacobson: A little bit? I think you did break your driver by slamming a wedge into your bag and then it cracked, correct? Not that I remember perfectly, but I think I have the details correct. Dan Proft: That is not inaccurate. Amy Jacobson: Okay. You’ll slow your role, man, back and through. Dan Proft: Trying to find my spiritual center on the golf course, but it’s been difficult, so I figured let’s have somebody on that could give me a few golf tips, particularly with respect to anger management on the course. And that’s, of course, Hall of Fame coach and player Mike Ditka, who joins us now; coach, thanks for joining us, appreciate it. Mike Ditka: You’re welcome, guys, how are you? Dan Proft: Good. So you weigh into politics from time to time, and the story yesterday that the Trump campaign trying to line up certain sports legends for the convention next month, including Mike Tyson, including Bobby Knight, and including Mike Ditka. Are you going to the convention? Mike Ditka: I don’t know. This is the first I’ve heard about it. I’m being very honest with you. I have no clue. Somebody asked me yesterday and I have no clue. Now if you’re asking me, this is America the last time I looked. Maybe some people think that’s changed, but this is a country where you have a choice. You have a freedom to vote, and that vote is your choice. You don’t have to make it public, you don’t have to make it known, but you vote for somebody that you think is good for America. That’s all that’s important. Now, anybody who votes for anybody, that’s their prerogative, God bless them. I have no problem with anything, but I don’t want anyone telling me that it’s wrong to vote for somebody for whatever their reasons are. I think that’s asinine, stupid and childish. Amy Jacobson: So coach Ditka, you came on about a year and a half ago praising Donald Trump saying that he’s right on track. Do you still feel that way? Mike Ditka: I do. I think he says what a lot of people would like to say but don’t have the guts to say. I think he has a lot of qualities of leadership that people in our government don’t have right now. That’s what I believe. Now, that’s my belief. Does that make me infallible? No, it just makes me believe it. And you’re asking me the questions who evidently you want to know what I believe. Well, I’m telling you, that’s what I believe. I believe he will be good for America, I really do. Now you may not feel that way, that’s your prerogative. Amy Jacobson: Right, I’m trying to warm up to Donald Trump. Mike Ditka: Are you trying to warm up to him? I warmed up to him. Who do you have to warm up to? I mean, look at this whole thing. Who do you really have to warm up to? Come on. You can spin the wheel anyway you want to, you can come up with this and that, but you have two choices right now, and one of them is really not good, so it’s up to the individual. So again, America’s going to survive basically anything. I think it will. I’m not positive. In my lifetime I think it will survive it. Other than that, I don’t know. It’s up to the individual. You do what you want to do. Dan Proft: Coach, do you want to go to the convention? I think it will be a hoot to see you and Bobby Knight on the dais there, making a case for Trump. Mike Ditka: What is a hoot? Dan Proft: It’d be fun. Mike Ditka: I mean, what is a hoot? Is a hoot for whom? Dan Proft: For republicans. Mike Ditka: Listen, I’m not adverse to anything. This is not my life. I’m an old man. There’re got to be other people that can do a better job at this than I can. I’m very honest, but I respect my views, because they’re personal. I think I’ve been on this Earth for quite a while now, three quarters of a century, and I have a pretty good understanding of what I like about America and what I worry about when it comes to America. And there’re some worries right now that people are always going to brush it aside. Go ahead, you brush it aside. I’ll worry about it. Amy Jacobson: But what concerns you most right now? Mike Ditka: The country and the direction we’re going. Who are we? Are we proud to be Americans or we should apologize for the rest of the world. I don’t know, you tell me. Our leadership is apologizing, and for what? What are we apologizing for? You know, Americans got where we are in this country by doing one thing; it’s called hard work. That’s what my dad did, that’s what my grandfathers did. They came over from the old country with the opportunity to an immigration system that’s been in existence for over 100 years; how to get to this country, how to become an American citizen, and how to be a good citizen, and that’s what they became, and they worked their butt off, and they loved it. Because every day they had to go to that mill; they had to work at that steel mill, work at that railroad, and that’s okay. But where is that in American today? We have an entitlement, we have an entitlement society. Everybody says, well, you’re entitled to that because of this. That’s not right. You’re entitled to what you earn. You’re entitled to the opportunity to be an American citizen, to work, to love, to cherish, to raise a family. That’s what you’re entitled to. You want to do that, good. If you don’t, you ought to go to one of those other countries and see what they’re really like. Dan Proft: And it’s interesting, because I think there is a sort of a silent – increasingly less silently – majority who believes that about America, and it’s not just the lunch-pail guys that’s up and down the socio-economic scale, it’s all races. There’re a lot of people who believe that and it seems like Trump has struck a chord with people who do still believe that. Mike Ditka: Well, it depends. If you think America’s the bully, I don’t. America’s not the bully. America is the defender of what’s right in the world. That’s my opinion, but I can say it’s all about choices. I don’t try to give many my choice, but what I’m saying to you, you asked me a question, here’s what I believe; could have I avoided the question and said something else? Yes, but I’m not politically correct. I’m not trying to be politically correct. Amy Jacobson: And we wouldn’t like you if you were. Dan Proft: Could we entice you to go to the convention if you knew the Beach Boys were going to play at the convention? Mike Ditka: If I knew Elvis was going to be there, I’d be there. Amy Jacobson: Bruce Springsteen. But if duty calls, if Donald Trump personally… Mike Ditka: I don’t know. I really don’t know. Like I said, this all came up and nobody’s told me a thing about it, then somebody started texting me yesterday saying, “Look at this, look at that, you and Mike Tyson”. And I said, this is the first I’ve heard of it, believe me. And I’m not lying to you. The first I’ve heard of it was yesterday. I happen to be working on my terrific golf game, which sucks, but I was really busy. Amy Jacobson: You and Dan have something in common. So if Donald Trump calls you, do you think then you will go to Cleveland, to the GOP convention? If he asks you personally to do so? Mike Ditka: I don’t like to travel anymore, but I think I can get to Cleveland if he called me. Dan Proft: There you go. Amy Jacobson: That’s the answer we were looking for. Dan Proft: You can guarantee that call will be made. Coach, before we let you go, we have to ask you about the passing of Buddy Ryan and your reflections on Buddy Ryan. Mike Ditka: I think everybody said everything there is to say, you know, and after the fact everybody’s, “Well, he’s just saying that now”, but Buddy was special. I think, and I told people this yesterday, because of the way he coached defenses, and those schemes he had on defenses, that’s why the offenses in football are so good today. That’s why they’re spread out. That’s why they have modular sets to get the ball to different people; because of what Buddy created. Because you could not play the old conventional offence against his defenses, he would kill you. So he was way ahead of his time in thinking, but he’s a pioneer in the fact, he’s probably never thought of this way, but he’s really changed the game of football, offensively, and he was a defensive coach, because people had to make great adjustments to limit what they were doing on defense. His legacy is terrific. Guys, I had to tell somebody yesterday, I didn’t coach the defense. I had nothing to do with the defense. He coaches defense. They had their own meetings, they had their own thing, and they were their own group, and they were good, really good; maybe one of the best ever. We had an offence. We had to get our job done. We had to uphold our end of it, and we did, so together we did something that neither of us were able to do alone. We won a championship. Amy Jacobson: We still appreciate that, and you too kind of had a rocky relationship, but in the end did you work things out? Mike Ditka: Well, yeah, but when you say rocky, who says it’s rocky? I think when you’re young the egos get involved, and there’s no question about that. And I was probably at more fault than anybody. But I had nothing but the greatest respect for people who know what they’re doing and become leaders. And Buddy did all that, and he made men out of boys. He made us a very great football team. I’ve said that from day one, so he didn’t have to pass away for me to have the respect that I have for him. I loved Buddy Ryan for who he was and what he meant for the Chicago Bears. I don’t know that you can say too much else in that. You spin the wheel anyway you want to spin it, but my god, did we have tea together? No. Did we have fun together at times? Yeah, we did have fun together at times, but then you get into the situation. After we won the Super Bowl, Buddy left. So then it became a big competitive situation, built up by the media, and that’s okay. We both lived through it, we both survived it, but I’m just saying; a lot of that was made up by the media, guys, and you guys are in the media, but I know you didn’t make that up. But a lot of things were made up by the media. The relationship was never as rocky or as bad as people made it, but it seemed like to be good ink, so people wrote about it. Dan Proft: Yeah, imagine the media sensationalizing something. Mike Ditka: No, that could never happen. Dan Proft: Alright, he is Hall of Fame Bears coach and player Mike Ditka; good luck with the golf game, and we’ll see you in Cleveland. Mike Ditka: Alright, God bless you, take care, bye-bye.!