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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Enough Already. . . Or How Entertaining Would It Be?

The Illinois Republicans have asked Mike Ditka to run for the U.S. Senate (the incumbent, Republican Peter Fitzgerald, is retiring) against the heavily favored Democrat, Barack Obama, after the Republican candidate, 44 year-old businessman Jack Ryan, dropped out of the race because of a sex scandal. (He probably wasn't using Levitra, though).

SportsProf's first reaction is, "enough already." Who would his chief of staff be, Buddy Ryan? His expert on national defense? Mike Singletary? Mike Ditka is a colorful character, was a good football player and a successful professional football coach (at least in his first stop). Of course, you can debate the qualifications of other members of the House and Senate, but SportsProf doesn't believe that Mike Ditka belongs in the U.S. Senate any more than, say, Ted Kennedy belongs on the sidelines coaching the New England Patriots (and the senior Senator from Massachusetts did play football at fair Harvard, where, no doubt, he fought fiercely).

Of course, the Illinois Republicans are desperate, and they will get an initial buzz if and when they announce that their candidate is Mike Ditka. But Ditka should look before he leaps, and should consider the arena that he might opt to play in carefully. After all, when he was helping evaluate talent for da Bears, he probably wouldn't have wanted to put a Division III quarterback with a 5.2 time in the 40 and a so-so arm behind center for his beloved team. And who's to say that the beloved Bears alum's political qualifications are any better?

One thing that slow, weak-armed quarterback would have figured out quickly is that the pro players hit hard and are faster than anything he'd ever seen before. And that he was in the fight for his life -- on every snap. Would you be any different fielding questions from the media or trying to grapple with your opponent, who is one of the fastest rising stars on the national political scene?

Coach, you've deserved a good retirement, and people love you for the image you project. The same way they don't like seeing their football heroes limping along after their prime, trying to eke out one more season, they also don't like to see their heroes look out of sync in another arena, an arena where they don't belong. They might have paid to see you work wonders with one of the best football teams ever, but that doesn't mean they'll vote for you.

But think hard about it first. Running for U.S. Senate is like being on the kickoff squad and trying to take on the wedge. You have to give it everything you've got. So if you run, run for the office the way you played the game, hard.

In that way, whatever the outcome, you won't get hurt, even if you lose, which you probably will.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buddy Ryan and Ditka never got along, so I don't think we have to worry about the man behind "Bounty Bowl" for the Eagles showing up in politics.

Obama (the Democrat running for the seat)is delivering a keynote address at the convention in Boston at the end of July, and he's got the race wrapped up.

3:35 PM  
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