Famed retired NFL coach “Iron Mike” Ditka, who took the 1985 Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl victory, revealed that his greatest regret was not running for the Illinois Senate against Barack Obama in 2004 when offered the chance.
“Biggest mistake I’ve ever made. Not that I would have won, but I probably would have and he wouldn’t be in the White House,” Ditka said, according to the Daily Mail.
Ditka is well-loved in the Windy City. In 2004, he certainly had greater name recognition than a then-unknown community organizer.
After a scandal involving the Republican candidate and with little time left in the race, Ditka was asked to run. At the time, even Obama admitted Ditka would have been the frontrunner.
“He’s enormously popular. I think if he gets in, he immediately becomes a favorite,” then-Democratic nominee Obama said at the time.
The Mail reported:
Ditka’s high approval ratings along with his self-described “ultra-ultra-ultra conservative” political leanings would have made him an ideal candidate for the party, but he decided against it.
Citing his wife’s disapproval of a run and his business obligations, Ditka formally announced that he would not be the Republican candidate just four months before the election.
After that, Obama enjoyed a meteoric rise, aided in part by the national acclaim he received from his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention the same year. He was eventually propelled to the U.S. Senate and served there less than a full term before being elected president.
Ditka isn’t the only person regretting his decision not to run, I’m sure.
Watch the video, from ESPN.