Tag:Mike Ditka
Posted on: June 22, 2011 9:21 pm

Mike Ditka to appear on 'Entourage' series finale

Posted by Ryan Wilson

This July, HBO's Entourage returns for an eighth and final season, and the series finale will include a cameo by … former NFL head coach and ESPN NFL analyst Mike Ditka (bet you didn't see that coming).

Ditka spilled the beans during an appearance on "The Waddle & Silvy Show."

"This just came up spur of the moment, and actually you know, it was a good experience," Ditka said. "I didn't realize how big a deal it was, I'll be honest with you. I'm kinda naïve about those things, and I understand it is a pretty big deal, and yes, I think it is very nice and [Wisconsin athletic director Barry] Alvarez is on it with me so both of us are there. …

"[The role] goes beyond me and my altar boy image, but I do have a couple of lines in there that might test a few people."

The list of famous faces from the sports world who have appeared on the show over the years is long and distinguished. That said, Ditka isn't the first person with ties to the Bears to turn up on Entourage: in Season 7, LB Brian Urlacher discussed investment opportunities with Turtle

Even if the recent progress towards a new CBA falls through in the coming weeks, at least we'll have Ditka's cameo to look forward to. So there's that.

In the meantime, a partial list of Entourage cameos by various sports figures. (Please note: there's a lot of naughty language so keep that in mind before clicking the YouTube links below. Hey, it's HBO.)
The only thing missing? Mike Tahoe and CJ Hunter. Because every show needs mustachioed cops.

Photo via Ari Gold's twitter feed

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Posted on: June 4, 2011 1:16 pm

Sayers: Current players need to help NFL alums

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Clearly, former Bears great Gale Sayers doesn’t mind speaking publicly about the thoughts that bounce around his brain all day. In the past, he’s talked about the problems with the Chicago organization and why Devin Hester KR might need to show more versatility in order to have a chance at the Hall of Fame.

So, it makes sense that he’d be disappointed in the way the current players think about the players that paved the way for them, and it makes sense that he’d share those thoughts with us.

Sayers speaks
"Some players of today's game think that they made the game what it is today. I beg to differ," Sayers said, via the Associated Press, Friday night at an event hosted by the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund. "The players who are playing today are standing on the shoulders of those who made the game what it is that played the game for peanuts.

"If today's players cannot help these players, shame on you."

Former Bears coach Mike Ditka, who’s been an outspoken ally for the NFL alumni, also weighed in on the issue of the day.

"If they want to fix the pension for former players, all they have to do is match what baseball does for their former players. They have the best pension in all of sports," Ditka said. "I'm fighting for the disability and the medical help that we need. One thing the current players should be fighting is for medical care for after their careers. Not for five years, but for 20, 30, 40 years. We're finding guys who are 50, 60, 70, they're suffering from head injuries and everything else."

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Category: NFL
Posted on: May 2, 2011 12:54 pm

Dave Duerson had brain damage at time of suicide

Posted by Will Brinson

You may recall that Dave Duerson, the former Chicago Bears player who committed suicide in February at the age of 50, asked before killing himself that his brain be dedicated to scientific research.

It was, and the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University's School of Medicine announced those results on Monday: Duerson had brain damage.

Typically, according to Dr. Robert Cantu, co-director of the CTSE, the results of such studies aren't made public until after a study has been published. However, in this instance, the Duerson family wanted the results released immediately.

Since Duerson's death, many a member of the football community has spoken up, including ex-Bears coach Mike Ditka, who called Duerson's suicide a "tragedy." 

Duerson's death has also, seemingly, encourage members of the football community to speak out against the lasting effects of the game on their brains and bodies: recently, Terry Bradshaw went public with the admissions that he was suffering from short-term memory loss and depression, likely as a result of all the shots he took while on the NFL field.

Duerson's autopsy was disturbing -- and so is the motivation that leads a man to shoot himself in the chest in order to achieve the goal of suicide while leaving the brain entirely intact.

But it's clear now why Duerson did what he did: his brain was significantly impacted by his time as a football player. It's likely that the Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI, though you know them in their mild form as "concussions") he suffered led to his brain damage and likely a depressed state of life that led to suicide.

It's a sad, sad saga that's unfolded surrounded Duerson's death, but his willingness to sacrifice his brain, in more ways than one, will hopefully lead to better recognition of player safety and further medical advancement of how players' brains can be impacted by football.

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Posted on: February 20, 2011 4:17 pm

Ditka calls Duerson suicide 'a tragedy'

Duerson Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In the middle of the NFL Alumni news conference during Super Bowl week in Dallas, former coach Mike Ditka appeared on a video screen and urged the NFL to increase the pension and make long-term health care last longer than five years postretirement.

I won’t say Ditka was begging, but he was certainly making a hard plea for his case.

Ditka – and some of the former players who also were in attendance at that presser – know former colleagues who are suffering from early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s, most likely due to the repeated head blows they took when they were playing.

So, it has to be excruciating for Ditka to hear about his former player, Bears S Dave Duerson who committed suicide last week at the age of 50.

"I knew he had some problems, I knew he lost the business, I knew all that," Ditka told the Associated Press. "It's just a tragedy. It really is.

"A lot of these guys have gone through a lot of suffering. You played the game, you had a concussion, and you went back in. That's how it was. If they showed you three fingers, and you saw two, it was good enough. You played the game."

One has to wonder if Duerson might have known what was to befall him the longer he lived. It’s awfully telling, I think, that he wanted his brain donated for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and it’ll be awfully interesting to see the results after researchers at the Boston University school of medicine examine it.

The AP also reported his company had been forced into receivership several years ago and that he had lost his home to foreclosure, and that might have played a role in his downfall.
In case you haven’t heard of CTE (though chances are you’ll continue to hear much more about it in the months and years ahead), here’s an explanation from the AP:

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is associated with cognitive and behavioral problems later in life and eventually causes dementia. Also known as punch drunk syndrome, it has been most common in boxers. In recent years, CTE has been shown to exist in other athletes, including professional and college football players and a pro hockey player.

CSTE is a collaboration between BU Medical School and the Sports Legacy Institute that's addressing what it calls the "concussion crisis" in sports. The group has been at the forefront of research into head trauma in sports and received a $1 million gift from the NFL, which it has pushed for better treatment of concussions.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: February 2, 2011 9:04 pm

NFL Alumni wants to be heard

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

DALLAS – George Martin, the executive director and president of the NFL Alumni, had made his speech this afternoon and had highlighted his points in front of a small gathering of NFL media and former players during a news conference.

Before he took questions, though, he pointed toward the video screen in a third-floor ballroom at the Sheraton-Dallas Convention Center.

Up popped a video of coaching and playing legend Mike Ditka – who’s been an outspoken critic of how the current NFL establishment treats the players who competed 40, 50 and 60 years ago.

Ditka – who seemingly can inspire the person listening to him to do something or anything in any setting – punctuated his interview with this: “The pension is not fair. Period.”

And from there, some of the former players in attendance – Pro Football HOFer Mike Haynes, Carl Mauck and Tom Nowatzke were a few of them – perked up, and the rest of the NFL Alumni got into the rhythm of the presser.

Nowatzke was nearly moved to tears and had to compose himself when talking about a former colleague who died after his brain had turned to “mush” from taking so many hits during his playing days. Mauck exclaimed, “We are not going away. When one of us dies, we’re going to pick up the baton and keep trucking.” And Martin discussed how Ditka receives no health care from the NFL and remarked, “That, to me, is telling. That, to me, is troublesome. That, to me, must change. … If not now, when?"

The wishlist for Martin and the NFL Alumni includes an increase in pension benefits and long-term health care for its former players. And he wants to continue drawing attention to his group, particularly when commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith are not talking about issues that affect the NFL Alumni.

That’s why he’s sending a GPS device to Smith and Goodell with the address of the NFL Alumni’s office preprogrammed into it. Sure, it’s a stunt, but Martin also is trying to send a message.

“Anytime they want to add us to the discussion, they know where to find us,” Martin said. “Or call us, and we’ll be there.”

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Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:37 pm

Five questions (or more) with Gale Sayers

Gale Sayers (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Gale Sayers is a Hall of Fame running back who isn’t afraid to tell Bears fans what he thinks about their team. Earlier this season, the legendary Bears RB dismissed Chicago’s success – a move that predictably drew some heat – and he’s said recently that he thought he was a better kick returner than Devin Hester.

But Sayers also wants to know what YOU think. Which is why he’s teaming up with the Pro Football Hall of Fame (along with Van Heusen and JC Penny) to highlight Fanschoice.com, where fans can pick who they think should make the HOF from this year’s list of finalists.

Said Sayers: “We have about 4 million people who have voted for who they want to see in the Hall of Fame. There are some people they put down that are pretty good players. You have Ray Guy, Jim Plunkett, Lester Hayes and Donnie Shell. There are some people that probably should be in the Hall of Fame but they’re not for some reason.”

Earlier today, we caught up with Sayers and asked his thoughts about his controversial Bears predictions, about Hester’s chances for the Hall of Fame and about his thoughts for Sunday’s Packers-Bears tilt.

Previous Five Questions (or more):

Dec. 10: former Patriots WR Troy Brown

Dec. 3: Panthers QB Brian St. Pierre

Nov. 12: 49ers LB Takeo Spikes

Nov. 5: former WR, current NFL analyst Keyshawn Johnson

Oct. 29: Chargers LS Mike Windt

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington

1. CBSSports.com:
Since we’re talking about the Hall of Fame and since you’re already in there, what do you think about a guy like punter Ray Guy? He was the most dominant punter of his time – and of all time – and I know there is only one kicker in the Hall, but what do you think? Should a player like Guy be in?

Gale Sayers:
I was playing in the league when Ray Guy was playing in the league. He was the best kicker I’ve ever seen. He could bullet that ball 70 yards. He was so unbelievable. I just don’t know why they’re not letting a punter into the Hall of Fame. It’s so crazy. One of these days he will get in there.

CBS: Just to dismiss punters doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, you see it every week how much they can affect the game. It’s just kind of crazy.

It really is. If you have a great punter, he’s almost (as valuable as a) great running back. Ray Guy was that great punter. What happens also is that a lot of those people and reporters who vote for Hall of Famers, some of the people who were around when Ray Guy was around are deceased. And some of the reporters don’t remember Ray Guy. He should have been in the Hall of Fame 15 years ago.

2. CBS: Considering you were one of the best kick returners of all time, tell me your thoughts about Devin Hester. Especially since he, like you did, plays for the Bears.

Sayers: They got him now, and he’s run back 14 kicks for touchdowns. That’s pretty good. That’s not bad at all (laughs). Will he be in the Hall of Fame? If he doesn’t get hurt in the next two or three years, and he’s still doing the same thing, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll get in the Hall of Fame. He’s been a super young man to run back punts and kick returns. He has a gift to do that. You hope he goes in the Hall of Fame, but the voters might think, “Well, he’s a kickoff returner, but he should be something else also.” Personally, I think he will get in, but you don’t know. Is (his returning only) enough to get him in the Hall of Fame?

3. CBS: Every week, there’s so much talk about how teams should play Hester. Should they kick to him? Avoid him? Punt it out of bounds? When you were playing, was there that much talk about what other teams should do about you?

Sayers: They punted to me, and after they saw what I could do with the football, they started punting away from me. But we always had two men back. When they kicked to me, I always thought I had a chance to run it back. What we did when they knew I could run back kicks, my coaches put in the offensive line to block for me. Usually, you don’t do that. You usually put in scrubs. But we had the offensive line up in front of me, and they gave me a good chance to get a block that would allow me to return the kick. With Devin Hester, they’re doing some of the things they were doing when I was playing.

4. CBS: You’ve taken some heat for some of the things you said about the Bears in the preseason and earlier this year. I wrote on this blog also about how I didn’t think the Bears were all that good and about how those early wins seemed like flukes to me. What do you think now, and do you like their chances to play for a Super Bowl?

I’m not against the Bears. What I saw out there earlier in the season, they didn’t look that good. I didn’t think they would be competing for the Super Bowl. With them playing the Packers, it’s going to be an outstanding game. I don’t think it will be a high-scoring game. Jay Cutler, he’s a fine quarterback, but I think at times he gets a little nicked up. And (Aaron) Rodgers for the Packers, he’s had a hell of a season. One hell of a season. I think if Cutler is not on and Rodgers is on, the Bears are in trouble. Hopefully, we can stay free of injury, and that’s one thing the Bears have done. You need to do that when you get into the playoffs. The Packers have some injuries, and that might be the difference.

5. CBS: Tell me about the Bears-Packers rivalry when you played in the mid to late-1960s.

Sayers: The Bears fans and the Packers fans really hated one another. But when we got on the football field, the Packers knew and we knew that they were going to give us their best shot and that we were going to give them our best shot. We talked to them on the field, but once the game was over, we shook hands and went home. When we got on that field, we hated one another. Ray Nitschke and Willie Wood – Hall of famers and great football players for them – and you have Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus and Mike Ditka for us, and we fought like dogs.

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Posted on: October 15, 2010 3:41 pm

Hot Routes 10.15.10 (insert TGIF cliché here)

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

Mary Garrard told Jaguars offensive coaches that they need to call more plays that allow her husband to use his mobility.

Conveniently, here is another story about an important woman in the life of another mobile AFC South quarterback who, like Garrard, is playing on Monday.

The Falcons are getting exactly what we thought they’d get in Dunta Robinson: a top cover corner who doesn’t make interceptions but improves an entire secondary.

Thanks to the Mark Clayton injury, confident (cocky?) Rams rookie Mardy Gilyard will get a chance to shine.

Deuce Lutui is not as fat as he once was.

The Bills offensive line may actually get worse in the next few weeks. Veteran right tackle Cornell Green is going to miss some time with a knee that has been problematic since late summer. Rookie Cord Howard relieved Green late against Jacksonville last week.

Ron Greene of the Charlotte Observer points out that the Panthers will go a week without a loss…thanks to the bye.

Linebacker Brian Iwuh is prepared to start Sunday for the Bears if Pro Bowler Lance Briggs (sprained ankle) is unable to go.

The Broncos want fans to get in on the fun when the team wears its orange jerseys against the Jets this Sunday. (Yes, those orange jerseys that should probably replace the blue jerseys because, let’s face it, the orange looks 10 times better.)

Mike Ditka has zero sympathy for Jenn Sterger in this whole sordid affair.

Just a formality, but Nick Barnett was placed on I.R. (Also, the Packers brought back DE Mike Montgomery.)

Why can’t more sportswriters have this kind of humility? Props to Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com