Tackling Men's Health
NFL, Ditka To Tackle Men's Health Issues
The Ditka you will see will be older, wiser and a little out of character. He will implore the millions of men 40 and older in the NFL's audience to prevent the things that caused him to have a heart attack at age 48 in his coaching prime with the Chicago Bears.
Ditka is spokesman for the NFL's health education campaign called "Tackling Men's Health," which is being launched today (www.tacklingmenshealth.com). The league and the pharmaceutical companies it is teaming with -- Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline -- are counting on the Hall of Famer's tough-guy persona to appeal to men to take their health more seriously.
"If Coach Ditka is able to publicly discuss his health issues, then men should be willing to privately explore their problems," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says. "His name recognition among males is superior to many endorsers. He's known for his aggressive playing and coaching style, and we can contrast that with sensitive issues."
Ditka, 63, who has had a hip replaced, works out daily and plays up to 54 holes of golf a day: "I think I can speak honestly on heart disease, prostate, stress, ED (erectile dysfunction). I've lived through them, and I know what it takes to overcome them."
Expect to see a lot of Ditka's face in public service announcements on TV, in print media, online and on game days in each NFL stadium.
One place you probably won't see Ditka soon is on the sideline.
But he knows never to say never. "It's a crazy world," he says.
"Somebody might say, 'He might be what we want.' "