Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka is passing on the opportunity to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month.
The news from Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed comes after reports that Ditka had been mentioned as a potential guest for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, whom Ditka has endorsed.
“No one’s ever talked to me about it,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “I have no idea where it’s coming from.”
Ditka, a staunch Republican, has endorsed Trump and has criticized the GOP for not rallying behind the billionaire businessman.
Ditka has occasionally flirted with Illinois and national politics. In 2004, the NFL Hall of Famer considered running for the Senate as a Republican against Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama.
Ditka ultimately declined to run while Obama went on to win the Senate seat and eventually the presidency. Ditka has since called his decision “the biggest mistake I’ve ever made” and has hinted had he run, Obama would not be president.
Despite his conservative politics, Ditka cut an ad in 2010 for Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. But Federal Election Commission reports show that the same year, he also donated $1,000 to Rep. Mark S. Kirk’s successful campaign for Obama’s old Senate seat.
In 2012, he also donated to the campaign of former Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia. Allen’s father, also George Allen, had been an assistant coach when Ditka played for the Bears and went onto sports fame as head coach of the Washington Redskins.
In 2014, when Quinn was up for re-election, Ditka appeared in an ad for his Republican opponent, businessman Bruce Rauner, the eventual winner.
So far, Ditka has not given any money to Trump’s cash-strapped campaign but he did donate $1,000 to Trump’s primary opponent-turned-ally Ben Carson.