He may not have accepted Donald Trump’s invitation to speak at this week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, but it doesn’t mean that MIke Ditka is not supporting the GOP Presidential nominee.
Telling the Sporting News, “I support Trump all the way, I really do. I just don’t think that’s where I belong, in Cleveland right now, I really don’t.”
The man who said he regretted not running against Barack Obama for U.S. Senate back in 2004, describes himself as an “ultra-ultra conservative,” and said that he will throw his support totally behind Trump:
“I told him, and I told his people, the same thing: I support him. I think he’s the best candidate. I hope he wins. If he doesn’t win, that’s OK, he’ll get my vote. So there’s not much else you can say.”
As for his employer, ESPN, Ditka agrees with fellow conservative Curt Schilling that the Worldwide Leader leans to the left:
“I think they lean that way. Yes, there’s no questions about it. I am conservative. I don’t wear a badge. It’s America. It’s a free country.”
While Ditka has signed a contract to remain at ESPN, you won’t be seeing him on Sunday NFL Countdown or Monday Night Countdown. He doesn’t know how much of him you’ll see during NFL season:
Nah, I don’t know how much you’ll see me actually. I think ESPN has been great to me. I just have no desire to travel any more. That comes with age. It’s just hard for me to want to do that any more. The football part, yeah, I understand football. I know the game. If they want a younger guy, fine. That’s fine. But they have been great to me. I have no complaints about anything. I don’t know exactly what they have in mind. Evidently, it’s something that can be done from Chicago or Florida. Because I spend a lot of time in Florida. I’m willing to do that if they feel my information or expertise is important. If they don’t, that’s OK, too. Because I’ve had a hell of a run, man. I’ve been messing around with this football since I was 21 years old. It’s been a good run professionally, then getting into TV and having a run with ESPN for, I guess, about 12 years. So I’ve really enjoyed it. All good things come to an end. I’m the first one to understand that.
Ditka realizes that his opinions won’t be liked by everyone, but he says he’s set in his ways, “I’m not going to change. Eventually, I’ll say something that will probably aggravate people. That doesn’t work either today, you know that?”
So as the 76 year-old curmudgeon goes into what could be his final contract with ESPN, he knows who he is and he likes it that way whether you like it or not.