Ditka passes on possible senate run

For more than a week Mike Ditka flirted with becoming the republican nominee for the U.S. Senate race in Illinois. Ditka put all speculation to rest Wednesday in an impromptu press conference, in which he decided not to run.

"Five, six years ago I would have jumped on it and would have ran with it, and I know this, that I would make a good senator, because I would be for the people," Ditka said. "But ... I have made commitments. I have obligations, and that's basically the whole reason I've chosen not to go in that direction."

Ditka is scheduled to join ESPN this fall as part of their football coverage, as well as being a pitchman for several companies, including a casino. The name of the Hall of Fame player and Super Bowl winning coach jumpstarted the republican campaign that has been drowning since Jack Ryan withdrew as the Republican candidate last month.

However in the end, giving up his endorsement deals and TV contract seemed like a heavy price to pay, especially when he would have been a target for public criticism during the race for office and as a senator.

"I don't know how I'd react under the scrutiny," said Ditka. "I don't know how I'd react on the Senate floor if I got into a confrontation with somebody I didn't really appreciate or maybe didn't appreciate me."

Republicans have been scrambling to find a replacement for Ryan and it appeared Ditka's name was gaining momentum within the state and party.

"Mike Ditka would be a great candidate because he represents the average Illinoisan. He's just a decent, ordinary guy that worked hard and wasn't handed anything but made it successful," said state Sen. Dave Syverson shortly after Ditka's name first surfaced as a possible candidate.

In an attempt to get Ditka's name on the ballot Draftditka.com was launched. The website listed Ditka's accomplishments and opinions on current topics. According to the site, in a matter of a week, over 35,000 people signed a petition to get Ditka to consider running for office.

In a web poll conducted by WSCR radio Ditka received 74% of 11,000 votes compared to just 26% for democratic nominee Barack Obama. Of course, the all-sports station employees Ditka.

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