NFL Hall of Famer Mike DItka, 71, hosts the Mike Ditka Golf Classic (<!-- --><a target="_blank" class="1000" href=""></a><!-- / -->).
Rudy Archuleta
Monday, August 29, 2011

When did you start playing golf?
I got hooked when I was in college. I love it. I still shoot in the 80s. If I couldn't play golf, I don't know what the hell I'd do.

Your nickname is "Iron Mike." Does that extend to the course?
Lately, I've been driving it in the fairway, and chipping and putting [well]. But my irons stink!

Next year's Ryder Cup is at Medinah, near your beloved Chicago. If you coached Team USA, what kind of motivational speech would you give?
Respect your competition, but beat your competition.

\nWhich Tour pros are tough enough for football?
All of them. They hit the daggone ball so stinking far. And golf takes such mental toughness. You have to be able to block things out.

\nDescribe a great day on the course.
My buddies and I just played 27 holes at a course in Michigan, and I made a hole-in-one on my 27th hole, with a 6-iron! It's about laughing, having a few beers, and betting a little.

\nAre you as intense on the course as you were as an NFL head coach?
As you get older, you don't worry so much about winning and losing. You just hope to hit some good shots and be competitive.

\nTalk about your charity golf tournament, the Mike Ditka Classic.
We raise money to help former NFL players in dire need [with health issues]. A lot of guys are hurting and have fallen through the cracks. They have dementia, Alzheimer's. I see how bad they get year to year. I know what they go through—I've had four hip replacements.

So you can feel all those hits you took as a tight end?
I'll probably need a shoulder replaced, but as long as I can play golf, I'm OK.


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