Mike Ditka on 'massive' heart attack: 'It's been a hell of a run'

Yahoo Sports
Mike Ditka, ever Da Coach. (Getty)
Mike Ditka, ever Da Coach. (Getty)

News broke a couple weeks back that Mike Ditka suffered a mild heart attack, and you could be forgiven if you started thinking things like, no, a heart attack suffered a Ditka. The idea that the toughest old dog ever to stalk a sideline at Soldier Field could be brought low by a heart attack seemed unfathomable. But as Ditka reveals in a lengthy interview with The Athletic, the heart attack was anything but mild … and it’s reworked his thinking on life.

“You always think it’s not going to happen to me until it happens to you,” Ditka told The Athletic’s Dan Pompei. “And then there is nothing you can do about it because it just kicks your butt so bad. You know, the greatest gift we have from God is life. But life without health is not worth a darn.”

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Ditka appears rattled by the heart attack, as anyone would be, but he put his own life and situation into perspective. “I got my ass kicked pretty good there, but I’m feeling a lot better,” he said, later adding, “I realize that I have been riding ‘em hard and putting up wet for a lot of years. Time to slow down. I’m not getting any younger. You’re only going to live ‘til you die anyway. So it’s been a hell of a run.”

Da Coach still loves Da Bears

The most famous part of that run, of course, came during the 1980s with the Bears. He’s still a legend in Chicago, so much so that current Bears head coach Matt Nagy reached out to him for advice on how to coach the iconic franchise. The discussion paid off; Ditka remains a devout Bears fan.

“What Coach Nagy has done is terrific,” Ditka said. “He’s put together a good football team. I thought going in the Rams were a good football team. They completely manhandled the Rams. They can run the football, they have a good young quarterback, they don’t make a lot of mistakes and they get after you with their defense. You have to like what they’re doing.”

Oh, and about that Mitchell Trubisky Ditka Halloween costume?

Ditka loved it. “Listen,” he said. “I should dress up like Mitch Trubisky. That’s what I want to be. I want to be the new Mitch.”

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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