Gambling on sports events has now become legal in many states. The gambling topic has always been in the news with Pete Rose, baseball’s Hit King, getting banned from the sport for betting on baseball games. Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, in a 2018 interview, claims former Bears coach Mike Ditka may have also placed a small wager. It reportedly happened when his Bears crushed the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 20.
Mike Ditka’s coaching career
After a lengthy career playing tight end in the NFL, Mike Ditka turned to coaching. After retiring as a player in 1972, Ditka was hired as an assistant coach under Tom Landry with the Dallas Cowboys. He spent nine seasons as an assistant in Dallas and was part of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl title in 1977.
Ditka became a head coach in the NFL in 1982. In his third season as head coach of the Chicago Bears, Ditka guided the team to a 10-6 record and a berth in the NFC title game. The Bears were blanked by the San Francisco 49ers but returned even stronger the next season. In 1985, Ditka and the Bears went 15-1 in the regular season and cruised in the postseason. They defeated the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl 20.
After an 11-year run with the Bears, Ditka took five years off before becoming the head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 1997. Ditka never had a winning season in three years with the Saints. He compiled a 15-33 record in New Orleans. He was most noted for trading away his entire stock of draft picks to move up in the draft to select running back Ricky Williams.
Ditka says kneeling players should leave the country
Mike Ditka was back in the news Sunday. He made a comment that caught the attention of many. Ditka, who criticized the kneeling of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem back in 2016, was lashing out again. The old-school Ditka said players who kneel should leave the country.
“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country,” Ditka said in an interview with TMZ. “That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old fashioned, so I’m only going to say what I feel.
He continued by saying the anthem and the flag should be respected. “You don’t protest against the flag, and you don’t protest against this country who’s given you the opportunities to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen,” he said. “So, I don’t want to hear all the crap.”
Former Bears QB Jim McMahon said Ditka may have bet on Super Bowl
In a 2018 article in The Chicago Sun-Times, it was reported that former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon said Mike Ditka may have placed a wager on Super Bowl 20. The wager wasn’t reportedly on the outcome of the game but on a prop bet. The prop was a bet whether or not Bears defensive lineman William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry would score a touchdown.
According to The Times, McMahon had recently appeared on ESPN Las Vegas radio and was asked about a longtime gambling rumor. The rumor was Ditka drove the odds up on the prop bet, then went ahead and put the Fridge into the game late in the third quarter for a score. McMahon said, “I think he made a bet. I’m not positive, but I know he likes to gamble. I’m sure he probably put some money down.”
It wouldn’t be the only time Ditka would have made a wager on one of his games. In 1997, Ditka was caught on tape exchanging money with his defensive coordinator Zaven Yaralian. They made a bet on whether or not the Saints could defend a pass route. Ditka wrote a letter of apology to the NFL and was not disciplined.