Ditka, the equal-opportunity crankLet's face it, the...

SPORTS PLUS

November 17, 1992

Ditka, the equal-opportunity crank

Let's face it, the Chicago Bears should lose every week. Why? WHY?

YOU KNOW WHY, YOU LOUSY PEOPLE IN THE MEDIA!

Oops. Got carried away, Mike. Didn't mean to take your thunder.

Yes, easy-going Mike Ditka was at it again yesterday. The mild-mannered Bears coach defended his on-field explosions with another eruption, saying malcontents and the "lousy" media can "quit watching me, quit writing about me or get rid of me."

During his morning radio show on WGN, Ditka defended his tirade against kicker Kevin Butler and his shouting match with a fan after the Bears' 20-17 loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday. Ditka had to be pulled away from the stands by players and coaches.

"I'm not going to be a punching bag for anybody," Ditka said about the shouting match.

"I'm not going to be cannon fodder," he said. "He called me a name, and I called him a name."

Separated by a fence, Ditka got into a cursing match with one spectator en route to the visitors' dressing room at Tampa Stadium. Some of his players pushed him away from the irate spectator and toward the dressing room.

However, another spectator threw a crumpled beer cup at Ditka from an elevated ramp. Ditka made an obscene gesture at the man and cursed him over and over.

Meanwhile, Diana Ditka, the coach's wife, picked up the cup and hurled it back at the man who had thrown it at her husband. Much like Butler on his errant attempt to tie the score in the final seconds, her shot was wide left.

Ditka said he didn't regret tearing into Butler after a kickoff went out of bounds and the Buccaneers took over on their 35-yard line. Butler then missed a 44-yard field goal with seven seconds left that could have tied the game.

Butler said after the game that Ditka told him "I'm the worst kicker in the league. I'm gutless, and I'm mentally weak."

Ditka said yesterday: "We don't plan to kick the ball out of bounds.

"It had nothing to do with the missed field goals, and I told him that. It's the kickoff that bothered me."

Ditka then ripped into the media.

"At least we've made some people happy . . . the malcontents and the lousy people in the media.

"If they don't like what Ditka does when he shakes his fist or hollers, then that's tough. They can quit watching me, quit writing about me or get rid of me. They have three options, and they can use any one of those options."

Ditka became angrier when it was suggested that his blowup at Butler might have unsettled the kicker to the point of missing his final field-goal attempt.

"He missed the field goal," Ditka said. "If you want to make me the scapegoat, go ahead, if that will answer your question. You can write about it or talk about it all week."

The Bears play host to Green Bay next week. Go Packers. Tennis player Mary Joe Fernandez, who is playing in the Virginia Slims Championships in New York, was asked to recall her strangest moment in the city.

She said she was standing on a street, watching a man trying to get into his car after having locked the keys inside. Seemingly out of nowhere, a man walked up with a huge key chain, unlocked the car for the stranded motorist, then kept walking.

Telling it like it is

Nebraska coach Tom Osborne managed to keep his sense of humor after Iowa State's stunning 19-10 upset of the Cornhuskers.

"We've heard a lot of complaints that we can't win the big one and all we can do is win the little ones," Osborne said. "Well, we won two big ones and lost a little one."

LTCSO: Compiled from wire reports

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