Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka nearly changed the state of modern American politics. The fact that he didn’t remains one of his biggest regrets, apparently.
In 2004, Jack Ryan won the Republican primary race for the United States Senate seat from Illinois. Who was his Democrat opponent for the seat? A young, still relatively unknown, Barack Obama.
However, soon after winning the nomination Ryan was forced to step away from the race altogether. Divorce documents that he and ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, had sealed by the court were opened for public record. The reason behind the Ryans’ divorce turned out to be Jack’s risqué sexual desires. The fallout from the open records forced Jack Ryan out of Illinois’ Senatorial race.
His departure from the campaign put Republicans in a desperate spot. In search of a big name, the GOP first turned to one of the few people famous enough to amass votes on such short notice. They reached out to coach Mike Ditka.
However, Iron Mike turned down the invite to run. Alan Keyes was given the nomination, and was eventually stomped by Obama. Four years later, Obama was swept into the White House on a wave of popular support.
All these years later, Ditka is still kicking himself for turning down the GOP.
Via the Dickinson Press:
“Biggest mistake I’ve ever made. Not that I would have won, but I probably would have and he wouldn’t be in the White House.”