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Ditka Fights for What's Right

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jun 13, 2007 1:02PM

2007_06_sports_ditka_duerson.jpgChicagoist knows one shouldn't get Ditka angry. A former player, especially, should know better. But then, we know Dave Duerson isn't exactly one of the classiest guys. To be honest, we don't even know how he is one of six trustees overseeing retiree benefits as part of the NFLPA benefits committee.

Duerson's role on the NFLPA retiree board currently pits him against Mike Ditka, who has been working lately to help disabled retirees to get additional benefits through the Gridiron Great program he helped launch recently.

In a Tribune interview, Duerson chided his fomer coach,

Mike was not one who gave a damn about the players or their injuries when he was coaching. He was very disrespectful of guys who got hurt and now he's trying to champion for a couple of guys. The fact of the matter is he's way off base and he's late in the game.

Ditka responded on Monday, ''It's not Duerson vs. Ditka. It's about right vs. wrong, and when you're wrong, you lash out in a lot of different ways...'

Da Coach is absolutely right -- this should have nothing to do with Ditka and Duerson. It is about providing benefits to players who are in dire need due to substantial injuries suffered while playing in the NFL. For every Peyton Manning, there are guys who don't make the big bucks and see their careers cut short by injury -- some severe enough to prevent their ability to work after football.

Ditka has been fighting for the plight of players who can't pay medical bills and have even become homeless as a result of their inability to work, lack of health insurance and high medical bills. On Monday, at a news conference at Ditka's restaurant to announce a fund raising drive, Brian DeMarco's story was told to the media.

However, Tuesday evening thing between Ditka and Duerson heated up further when the former Bears safety continued to try and make thing between him and Da Coach. On ESPN 1000 radio's "Mac, Jurko, and Harry Show," the two got into it on-air. The two had been debating player pensions and benefits, and who was eligible for what when. Ditka eventually hung up on Duerson after Duerson interrupted him and accused Ditka of calling him a liar.

With Duerson, along with NFLPA head Gene Upshaw lashing out against Ditka and the disabled players, we only expect this situation to get more headed leading up to Capitol Hill hearings later this month on the issue. Caught in the middle are the guys like DeMarco who need financial help.

Images via NBC5 and Notre Dame Observer