Q + A Mike Ditka

September 07, 2003

The 63-year-old Hall of Fame tight end, Super Bowl-winning Bears
coach and restaurant owner is the national spokesperson for the
NFL's new Tackling Men's Health campaign.

SI: Have you mellowed as you've gotten older?

Ditka: I think I'm pretty mellow. People have one image of me
that's really not a true image. Yeah, I'm competitive and I get
mad and I don't apologize for any of that. Things that aren't
important to me, I don't get mad about, but football was my job
and it was important to me.

SI: So, how competitive are you these days anyway?

Ditka: I'm competitive in anything I do. I want to win whether
it's golf or cards or the restaurant business.

SI: If somebody offered you a coaching gig today, would you take
it?

Ditka: I don't know. Nobody is offering me one.

SI: You've talked about having erectile dysfunction (ED), and
you're the spokesman for the impotence drug Levitra. Could you
have been as open about such things when you were a younger man?

Ditka: No. You have that macho image, and you don't want anybody
to know [about your erectile difficulties]. As you get older you
understand it's a part of life. It doesn't make you dead or
inadequate. It's just a problem you have, and you correct it.

SI: What would have happened if a guy brought up ED when you were
playing in the league?

Ditka: Players would have snickered, and you probably would have
had a nickname. I don't think that's true today. People are more
understanding.

SI: As the first NFL tight end to be enshrined in Canton, what's
your take on Jeremy Shockey?

Ditka: He's a very good player, but time will tell. One thing
about football is, you let your playing do your talking. If he
does that, he'll be one of the best.

SI: Who was the best player you ever coached?

Ditka: Walter Payton. He's the best I've ever seen as a complete
player. That means a runner, a blocker, a receiver and a leader.
He was the whole package.

SI: Still know the words to the Super Bowl Shuffle?

Ditka: I never did know it. The one thing I do know is those guys
could not dance. --Richard Deitsch

For more from Mike Ditka, go to si.com/magazine.

COLOR PHOTO: TODD ROSENBERG No coaching offers

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