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.