Pyle Ponders

It was hard to escape the news about Mike Ditka's possible run for a senate seat, even for those of us who were temporarily out of the country. My wife and I were in Montreal last week and I happened to turn on the television in our hotel room. Eager for news of the US, we found a station that was broadcasting from the Detroit area. Sure enough, there was a big photo of Mike right there on the screen.

When I first heard that he was considering becoming a candidate, I was somewhat taken aback. After all, deciding to run for an office like that isn't exactly like being Qasim Mitchell fighting for a starting role. Every aspect of your character will be scrutinized, a fact with which Jack Ryan would certainly agree.

Like all of us, Ditka has ghosts in his closet, but nothing of a serious nature and certainly nothing that would involve legal documentation as Ryan's case did. But would Mike want that type of an investigation into his background? Would any of us?

The more I thought about the entire concept, the more sense it made to me. If there is anyone you want on your side during a crisis, it is Mike Ditka. I think I said once before that if Mike had been a soldier in World War II, he wouldn't have lasted more than 12 seconds. Why? Because he gives everything that he has. He would have been over the top of that hill or on to that beach before anyone knew what had happened.

It was clear to me, even from a distance, that the Illinois Republican Party was grasping at straws, trying to find someone this late in the race with name recognition that could also provide as strong a position as Democratic nominee Barack Obama. So in their desperation, they happened to find the perfect candidate. Mike has amazing quality of character. In that sense, he is somewhat of a throwback to the days when a person's word was their bond.

Love him or hate him, and people are polarized on the subject, there's no denying that, Mike has integrity to his core. He's honest and when he says he'll get the job done, you can count on that happening. Unfortunately Mike decided against running for office. That's our loss.

Although I am disappointed, I can understand his position. It would have been a matter of turning his life upside down. He has earned the right to be on a golf course if that's his choice. But even if he had kept up his regular recreational schedule, I suspect that he would have been in the Senate chambers more than John Kerry has been recently.

And I'm not sure about Diana, Mike's wife. What kind of impact would all of this have had on her? She has her own life and her friends. Would she have put everything aside in order to relocate to Washington? That would be a hard choice for anyone.

This was certainly fun while it lasted. It was exciting to imagine what his run would have been like. Can't you just picture Mike, his cigar in his mouth, taking no guff from anybody? I think that in a way, Obama was looking forward to the contest as much as the rest of us were. I, for one, couldn't wait to have the chance to go out and campaign. I suspect it would have been a contest the likes of which the voters of Illinois have never seen.

Now things are back where they started. Ryan is still on the ticket, at least his name is still there and no exciting replacement candidate has come to the forefront. But wait a minute. I've always been a diehard Republican. I know some of the members of the Illinois State Committee. Now where did I put their phone numbers?

Mike Pyle played for the Bears from 1961-69 and has continued to follow the team since his retirement.

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