Chicago, IL, United States (4E Sports) – Former Chicago Bears tight end and head coach Mike Ditka just shrugged off the minor stroke that he suffered Friday, saying he “feels good right now and it was not a big deal”.
The 73-year-old Ditka, now working as an ESPN football analyst, was playing cards at a suburban Chicago country club when he suffered the health scare.
In an interview with Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune, Ditka said he noticed his hands weren’t working correctly and he was having trouble speaking. He then decided to go to the hospital where he was diagnosed with minor stroke.
“I feel good right now and it’s not a big deal,” Ditka told Pompei.
It was not the first health scare for Ditka as he suffered a heart attack in 1988 when he was then coach of the Bears. He returned to work eight days later and back to coaching three days after that.
“I don’t know what I experienced,” said Ditka, who shares the distinction with Tom Flores as one of just two players to win a Super Bowl as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
“I mean it was so bad at a certain point that I knew that we’re just mortals. I mean, we’re here for a while and then we’re gone. It can happen to anybody at any time. It was a very humbling feeling after that, believe me,” he added.
Ditka was selected both by the Bears in the first round of the 1961 NFL draft and the Houston Oilers of the American Football League.
Ditka opted to play for Chicago but had a falling out with Bears owner George Halas over money in the late 1960s. He then moved to the Dallas Cowboys where he won his Super Bowls as a player and assistant coach.
After several years, Ditka and Halas ironed their differences and he became the Bears’ head coach in 1982. Three seasons later, the 15-1 Bears won Super Bowl XX with one of the NFL’s all-time great defenses.
Ditka later coached the New Orleans Saints in the latter part of his career.