Nobody in football has a persona more associated with toughness than Mike Ditka. So when the legendary Chicago Bears coach says he's scared, people listen. And Ditka hasn't been shy about a recent fear of his: He's worried about what football and concussions have done to current and former football players, and what it might do to younger players in the future.
The subject hit close to home this past summer, when Ditka's former Bears roommate Mike Pyle died at 76 years old. He was later diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the condition at the heart of the new Sony Film, Concussion.
Ditka hasn't seen the movie yet because, as he told a Chicago Tribune reporter, the movie is"not going to tell me anything I don't know." But he does have some thoughts relevant to the film.
"Well, let's say you're a father right now, and you've got a ... [young] kid. So what do you tell them?" Ditka says. "People ask me the question. I would never discourage my son from playing football or baseball or anything else, but I would probably say 'Hey, listen, you ought to try golf.' Seriously.
"And I think that's what's going to happen to a degree. And that's just the way it's going to be."
Ditka is quick to remind the reporter that he's enjoyed his football life, and the game has given him many opportunities he wouldn't otherwise have. But he doesn't see how the facts of the game's dangers can be ignored.
"I'm not going to find any fault in what they did or didn't do," Ditka says, referring to the NFL. "This thing has gone on for a long time and it's time now that people at least be honest about what happened."
The full text of his comments:
— Jared S. Hopkins (@JaredSHopkins) December 22, 2015
Ditka also anticipates more lawsuits to come the NFL's way. That's a good thing, from his perspective, but it's nothing more than a consolation prize.
Says Ditka: "Money can't bring back life."