I learned that former Dallas Cowboys Tight End, Chicago Bears Head Coach, and current ESPN Analyst Mike Ditka suffered a mild stroke, reportedly brought on by worries about his son, who’s facing his fourth DUI charge.
The news brought back memories of how well he and his staff treated me on the October 16th day I laid my father, Zenophon Abraham Sr., to rest at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elmhurst, Ill.
My father loved to smoke cigars, so in his honor, I went over to Ditka’s on Drake in Chicago for a smoke and a drink. By myself – didn’t know a sole.
But it happened to be the week of the now-famous 2005 USC – Notre Dame “push” game, where Reggie Bush pushed Matt Leinart into the end zone to score, and win that game. It happened that night, that the door opened and a rush of USC fans came in – to which I said “GO BEARS!”
That led to a lot of drinks, smack talk, and fun. And Mr. Ditka made sure his staff took care of me.
When I was in Arizona for the 2008 Super Bowl, I ran into Mike at the NFL Host Hotel, and reminded him of that night. He gave me a giant 1985 Bears Championship Cigar of his as a gift.
Mike Ditka. A standup guy who’s made his personality into a brand, with great restaurants and resorts in his name.
I hope he recovers well, and gives us more to smile about.
Stay tuned, and here’s my letter to Mike Ditka from 2005.