Former Bears coach and player and current ESPN commentator Mike Ditka suggested he’d encourage kids try out golf rather than steer them toward football, given the sport’s safety concerns.
Ditka’s former Bears teammate Mike Pyle, the captain of Chicago’s 1963 Super Bowl-winning team, died in July and it was revealed this week that he was diagnosed with CTE, the degenerative brain disease that has been tied to head trauma and found in the brains of dozens of retired NFL players post-mortem.
Ditka, 76, spoke with the Chicago Tribune’s Jared Hopkins regarding Pyle as well as the NFL’s response and path of action regarding head trauma issues and player safety. He called the entire issue unfortunate and said it was “apparent” that there was indeed a problem. While he said he wouldn’t steer kids away from taking up the game, also acknowledged that safer alternatives existed.
“Well, let’s say you’re a father right now, and you’ve got a [young] kid. So what do you tell them?” Ditka said. “People ask me the question. I would never discourage my son from playing football or baseball or anything else, but I would probably say ‘Hey, listen, you ought to try golf.’ Seriously. And I think that’s what’s going to happen to a degree. And that’s just the way it’s going to be.”
- Jeremy Woo