DITKA’S OBAMA RANT VI­O­LATES ESPN EDICT

Ditka slams Obama on ra­dio show de­spite ESPN ad­mo­ni­tion

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS DE LUCA Fol­lowmeon Twit­ter @ chris­deluca. Email: cdeluca@ sun­times. com

For­mer Bears coach Mike Ditka went on an epic rant against Pres­i­dent Barack Obama dur­ing a ra­dio show Thurs­day in New York, vi­o­lat­ing a re­cent edict from ESPN.

In guide­lines sent to all ESPN on- air tal­ent, an­a­lysts have been warned to avoid dis­cussing pol­i­tics in this elec­tion year.

“We should re­frain from political ed­i­to­ri­al­iz­ing, per­sonal at­tacks or ‘ drive- by’ com­ments re­gard­ing the can­di­dates and their cam­paigns. Ap­proved com­men­taries on sports spe­cific is­sues, or seek­ing re­sponses from can­di­dates on rel­e­vant news is­sues, are ap­pro­pri­ate. How­ever, per­ceived en­dorse­ments should be avoided,” the guide­lines stated.

Though Obama is not a can­di­date, Ditka’s pierc­ing com­ments ex­ploded via so­cial me­dia. Dur­ing his ap­pear­ance on WABC- AM ra­dio in New York, Ditka didn’t hold back, blast­ing Obama and throw­ing his sup­port be­hind Don­ald Trump.

“Obama is the worst pres­i­dent we’ve ever had,” Ditka told hosts Sid Rosen­berg and Bernard McGuirk.

Ditka, who also writes a weekly col­umn for the Chicago Sun- Times dur­ing the foot­ball sea­son, was re­port­edly on the hot seat with ESPN be­fore the ra­dio rant.

Me­dia an­a­lyst Ja­son McIn­tyre of the The Big Lead spec­u­lated this week that ESPN was mulling changes to its ‘‘ Sun­day NFL Count­down’’ and Ditka was the most likely mouth­piece to get bounced in fa­vor of the re­cently hired Charles Wood­son.

ESPN, which has re­fused com­ment on the Ditka sit­u­a­tion, has been scram­bling to ad­dress an­other re­cent con­tro­versy caused by MLB an­a­lyst Curt Schilling, who sug­gested dur­ing a Kansas City ra­dio ap­pear­ance Wed­nes­day that Demo­cratic can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton should be “buried un­der a jail some­where” for her han­dling of clas­si­fied emails as sec­re­tary of state.

Ditka, who guided the 1985 Bears to a Su­per Bowl vic­tory, also ques­tioned Obama’s skills as a leader.

“Barack Obama’s a fine man. I mean, he’s pleas­ant,” Ditka said. “He would be great to play golf with. He’s not a leader. This coun­try needs lead­er­ship. It needs di­rec­tion. It needs some­body that steps up front. We need some­body like Ron­ald Rea­gan.

“Ev­ery once in a while you’re go­ing to get punched in the chops. But you keep go­ing for­ward. That’s all there is to it,” he added. “You know it’s not al­ways go­ing to be a per­fect sit­u­a­tion, but to do what he does, there’s no lead­er­ship there. I think that be­comes very dis­gust­ing to me.”

Ditka also took shots at Clin­ton. When the show’s hosts played a clip of Clin­ton declar­ing Repub­li­cans want to take Amer­ica back to the “Jim Crow past,” a dis­gusted Ditka said that “filthy state­ment” could make you “throw up.”

“If I were to vote to­mor­row,” Ditka said, “I’d prob­a­bly vote for Trump.”

| KI­ICHIRO SATO/ AP

Mike Ditka ap­peared on a New York ra­dio show and called Barack Obama the “worst pres­i­dent we’ve ever had.”

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