Thursday, March 10, 2016

ESPN Inks Mike Ditka To New Deal

Mike Ditka
ESPN announced Wednesday it has signed outspoken NFL analyst Mike Ditka to a two-year contract extension. However, according to The Sporting News, Ditka will give up his chair on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown pregame shows in favor of a new role as a regular SportsCenter contributor in September.

Speculation about Ditka's future with the network had been swirling since his controversial comments on a New York radio station last week.

When Sporting News first reported Ditka's comments — he called President Barack Obama the "worst" U.S. president ever — on WABC's Bernie & Sid morning radio show, he came a lightning rod of criticism. Ditka also said he likely would vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Ditka made no mention of the Obama/Trump controversy in the ESPN press release. But the 76-year-old Pro Football Hall of Famer indicated the change was his idea. The Super Bowl-winning coach of the 1985 Bears has worked for ESPN since 2004.

“This new role is really a blessing,” Ditka said in a statement. “It’s something I asked for. After many years of weekend travel, I’m thrilled I’ll get to watch NFL games on Sundays and Monday nights in the comfort of my own home. I enjoy being part of the game and part of ESPN. I really do. So this is a great solution.”

Seth Markman, ESPN's coordinating producer for NFL studio shows, also indicated the decision was in the works long before Ditka ripped Obama during the Bernie & Sid show in New York last Thursday.

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