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Ditka on White House visit: A shame Walter Payton won’t be there

walter-payton Getty Images

President Obama has decided to honor the 1985 Bears at the White House this year, more than a quarter century after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster prevented them from visiting the Reagan White House. Coach Mike Ditka says he’s happy for the recognition, but one player on that team will be badly missed.

“The shame about this thing is that Walter won’t be there,” Ditka said today on ESPN Radio. “That’s the shame of this thing.”

Walter Payton, the star running back and spiritual leader of the ’85 Bears, died in 1999 at the age of 45.

Ditka, who in 2004 considered running against Obama in the Illinois senate race, said he’s excited to have his great team honored by the president.

“I’ll be happy to go — I’m excited to go, the Bears are excited to go,” Ditka said. “It’s going to be a nice deal to be recognized and have the country say, these guys were good football players — these old guys were pretty good.”

Those guys were very good, and it’s great that they’ll finally be honored. But Ditka is right: It’s a shame that the greatest of them all is no longer with us.

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28 Responses to “Ditka on White House visit: A shame Walter Payton won’t be there”
  1. dmc1542 says: Sep 23, 2011 9:08 AM

    Doesn’t matter who your team is, everyone has to respect Walter Payton as a player second, and a person first.

  2. scoops1 says: Sep 23, 2011 9:10 AM

    the least they could do is bring Walter’s family to this

  3. scoops1 says: Sep 23, 2011 9:12 AM

    Its also a shame Ditka didn’t Walter score a TD in the SB

  4. rajbais says: Sep 23, 2011 9:14 AM

    This is why Ditka is one of the most overrated coaches of all time!!!

    He had Buddy Ryan’s defense, Walter Payton, but he just screamed for a living and didn’t have a brain!!!

    Not visiting the White House earlier, letting Payton score a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and the Ricky Williams trade up are reasons why!!!

  5. tougie1 says: Sep 23, 2011 9:18 AM

    It’s also a shame that Payton didn’t score a TD in the Super Bowl and Perry did…As a Packers fan that is my only beef with Ditka.

  6. mel1sharples says: Sep 23, 2011 9:19 AM

    Cant wait to see Steve Fuller do the Super Shuffle…its no wonder…he runs like lighting and passes like thunder.

    Here hoping Singletary doesn’t drop his pants.

  7. cjspiller12 says: Sep 23, 2011 9:29 AM

    Sweetness = class!!!

  8. vadog says: Sep 23, 2011 9:38 AM

    Payton always seemed to have career days when his Bears played my Vikes! Those games were hard to watch, but, even as a Vikings fan, I couldn’t help but be awed by the way Payton played. He was tough, tough, tough!!! I have all the respect in the world for Sweetness…great football player and great person. He is missed.

  9. yzguy431 says: Sep 23, 2011 9:46 AM

    no disrespect intended, but you would think that the initial visit could have been rescheduled. 25 years after the fact seems a little strange.

  10. jaggedmark says: Sep 23, 2011 10:07 AM

    It’s also a shame that Dave Duerson won’t be there. The former Bear that recently committed suicide, and donated his brain to science.

  11. ruffbufffire says: Sep 23, 2011 10:19 AM

    Does coach feel sorry for Dave Duerson? He was on the team also.

  12. vanhenge1234 says: Sep 23, 2011 10:22 AM

    Dave Duerson won’t be there either.

    I’m not sure how I feel about the visit. It seems weird at this point, and will perhaps be a mournful gathering for the team.

  13. indianajet says: Sep 23, 2011 10:48 AM

    Another failure of the Obama administration.

    How could they not have invited the Bears before Walter died in 1999? This is preposterous!!

    IMPEACH OBAMA!!!!

  14. klucky97 says: Sep 23, 2011 11:20 AM

    i agree with everyone who said something about payton not scoring a td in the super bowl , that was wrong of ditka and thats why i consider him an a**hol*

  15. blaz0037 says: Sep 23, 2011 11:28 AM

    They deserve it. However, this is just Obama using the presidency to satisfy his fantasy by bring HIS beloved Chicago Bears to the White House. If this had been any other team, this would not be happening.

  16. kingdm8 says: Sep 23, 2011 11:34 AM

    Wow… Who gives thumbs down on comments celebrating a GREAT man who gave back to the community and was a great, great player on a few bad to mediocre Bears teams before they finally became a great team? Walter Payton was one of the hardest working, unselfish, classiest men to ever don an NFL uniform. In 1977 he had more than HALF of the Bears’ yards from scrimmage. For many years he was the ONLY player on the Bears’ offense and he stil produced. All of this from a 195 lb. running back who could run, catch, pass, block… He was one of the best ever.

  17. lgbarn says: Sep 23, 2011 11:38 AM

    Why are knuckleheads bringing politics into this?

  18. fcs34 says: Sep 23, 2011 11:56 AM

    Sweetness may not be there in person, but he will still be there. I coach basketball and I guarantee the kids are tired of me telling them about Walter all the time lol. And don’t get too upset about Ditka not getting Walter his TD in the SB, 34 was way to big of a man to let things like that bother him for long. Never Die Easy .

  19. mempusa says: Sep 23, 2011 12:24 PM

    R.I.P Sweetness!

  20. 1captain1 says: Sep 23, 2011 12:49 PM

    Where’s Buddy!?

  21. indianajet says: Sep 23, 2011 1:08 PM

    Why are knuckleheads to dense to sense sarcasm?

  22. davisjosh20 says: Sep 23, 2011 1:21 PM

    Thanks, jaggedmark, that’s the first thing I thought about after reading this article. Ditka doesnt think it’s a shame that Dave won’t be there? I understand the circumstances of their deaths are different, but it should be about the player not being there, not about how they passed.

  23. chris6523 says: Sep 23, 2011 1:56 PM

    I wonder if Buddy Ryan is going. Him and Ditka hated each other and I haven’t ever heard of any fence mending in that regard.

  24. thedingo8 says: Sep 23, 2011 2:24 PM

    The tele prompter / photo op president.. the worst president ever. just a shamwow salesman.

  25. stairwayto7 says: Sep 23, 2011 3:29 PM

    Hey Ditka, why nto give the ball to Peyton at the 1 instead on Fridge? Most overrated coach in NFL history! aLL THAT TALENT ON bEARS AND ONLY 1 SUPER BOWL APPEARANCE? Oh what happened in New Orleans?? You ruined that francise!

  26. polishkingski says: Sep 23, 2011 3:49 PM

    i was very curious to see how iron mike would feel about going to the white house being his political beliefs are about 180 degrees different than president obama`s. i am glad he shows respect to the office of the president. BOTH sides of the aisle need to remember that. kudos mike, kudos.

  27. polishkingski says: Sep 23, 2011 4:45 PM

    @thedingo8….shamwow salesman huh? did you forget the previous eight years? remember? the guy that could not put together a proper english sentence and had the I.Q of a fly? and by the way i bought a shamwow and love it.

  28. barneysbullet says: Sep 23, 2011 5:59 PM

    Hey McMahon, dont forget your ID cause otherwise Obama wont recognize you (see; Packers WH visit :)

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