Ditka says he’s smoked his last cigar — unless the Bears win it all
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Close, but no cigar . . .
Legendary Bears coach Mike Ditka, a stogie lover who suffered a massive heart attack last month, may have taken his last puff.
But … hold the match … and strike up the band!
“My cigar smoking days have ended, but I’ll tell you what,” Ditka told Sneed from his Florida home late this week.
“If the Bears win the Super Bowl, I WILL light up a victory cigar. And I’d smoke the whole damn thing!”
In a phone interview, Ditka said he plans to return to Chicago from Naples, Fla., in May.
“My wife and I deal with life as we are going through it and I have nothing but good memories especially of the Bears,” he said.
“I love [quarterback Mitch] Trubisky. I don’t watch football as much as I used to, but I don’t miss a Bears game.
“If someone is going to beat the Bears, it’s going to be an all-day job,” Ditka said.
Reflecting on his most recent health scare, Ditka, 79, opined: “Look, everything is good, but not as good as it could be,” he said. “But I have lived a life of no regrets. It is what it is. Four stents and a pacemaker was rough. But ya gotta look at the odds.
“I’ve had a blessed life. I’ve had a great run. I’d do it all over again. Well maybe not everything.
“What just happened to me, most people don’t come back from. I’m lucky I’m still here. I’m going to go ahead and enjoy my life. I still play golf every day. I play with my wife, Diana, and others. I’m just going to be more laid back.`
“When I had the surgery … it may have banged me up a little bit in terms of my golf game. I am not complaining … but hey, it is competition.
“I don’t drink. I’m trying to eat healthy.
“I want to enjoy whatever life still holds for me at my age.
“And it’s going to be great to be able to celebrate another Christmas. We don’t need anything and do not have to worry about buying gifts. We took care of the kids,” Ditka said.
Any special wish heading into the New Year?
“You know what, I get upset at things like politics,” said Ditka, who has been an avid Trump supporter.
“But, I think we have to understand we have to do what is best for this country and remember we have freedoms here that no one else has and so many opportunities,” he added.
“Everyone just needs to stop whining about Democrat and Republican parties and just enjoy what we have. It is a good country.”
But the last word came from Diana, who was sitting on the couch with her husband during the interview.
“It’s already Christmas for me,” she said.
“I am so, so glad my husband is still here. It is a great gift from God.”
Go, Bears. Go, Diana.
Christmas cards . . .
• Gift gab: Mayoral hopeful Bill Daley claims when his legendary father, former Mayor Richard J. Daley, was alive the Daley kids were allowed to start opening presents on Christmas Eve, but hizzoner would never open any of his gifts until Christmas morning.
• The ballet beat: A speedy recovery to Ashley Wheater, the Joffrey ballet’s brilliant artistic director, who has been recovering from back surgery at Rush University Medical Center. Wheater, a former ballet dancer, notes the Christmas Eve performance of The Nutcracker will be dedicated in honor of Robert Joffrey, the ballet company’s first artistic director.
Sneedlings . . .
Yum. Opera diva Renee Fleming spotted recently at Les Nomades, a favored intimate dining hideaway of Cloris Leachman, Michael Caine and Bernard Haitink, a guest conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. . . . How time flies: Rev. Gregory Sakowicz, Holy Name Cathedral rector, will be providing the Christmas midnight Mass WGN-TV commentary for the 34th consecutive year. . . . I spy: Singers Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes spotted dining at TAO recently. . . . Ditto for Sydney “Handmaid’s Tale” Sweeney. . . . Saturday’s birthdays: Ted Cruz, 48; Meghan Trainor, 25; and Jordin Sparks, 29. . . . Sunday’s birthday: Jim Harbaugh, 55; Susan Lucci, 72; and Eddie Vedder, 54. . . . And a special pre-birthday shout-out Dec. 26 to my trusty legman Francesca Gattuso, who puts up with me.