“I want to say one thing,” Ditka said. “If I was the coach, I wouldn’t have either Incognito, the bully, or the baby, Martin, on my team. That’s me. [Does] that make me right? No. That makes me me. And I would stand up to that, because you don’t do what Martin did and you don’t do want Incognito did. Period.”
I didn’t see Ditka’s statement or what followed, but Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk did. He found it curious that nobody on the panel followed up on what the former Bears’ coach said.
Ditka remained quiet after sharing his own view that Martin is a baby. While none of the other guys specifically directed their comments at Ditka or openly disagreed with him, the tension was palpable — and it was hard not to believe that Ditka was told to watch what he said.
As to what Ditka did say, ESPN had no comment. While far more irresponsible things have been said on ESPN’s airwaves, Ditka’s insistence that Martin, who may be suffering from a real mental illness, is a “baby” represents the kind of comment that could get folks with lesser star power than Ditka removed from ESPN’s airwaves.
Indeed, without knowing the complete story, it is extreme to label Martin “a baby,” especially if he is battling mental illness. Obviously, it speaks to Ditka’s “old school” philosophy on football.
However, as Florio notes, what seems to be missing here is that nobody on the panel called Ditka on his statement. There should have been on a conversation and/or a debate. Ditka clearly isn’t alone with his sentiment.
Why didn’t it happen? Was it a missed opportunity for Chris Berman and the rest of the Countdown crew, or did the panel not want to go where Ditka went?