Former Bears coach Mike Ditka went on an epic rant against President Obama during a radio show Thursday in New York, violating a recent edict from ESPN.
In guidelines sent recently to all ESPN on-air talent, analysts have been warned to avoid discussing politics.
“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.”
“If I were to vote tomorrow,” Ditka said, “I’d probably vote for Trump.”