Former NFL player, coach and commentator Mike Ditka is recovering from a heart attack suffered earlier this week, according to his agent.
“Coach Ditka had a mild heart attack earlier this week. Doctors inserted a pacemaker, and he is doing much better,” agent Steve Mandell said. “He appreciates the outpouring of support and expects to be home soon.”
Ditka, who turned 79 last month, remained in a Florida hospital, where his recovery was being monitored.
Ditka coached for 14 NFL seasons, including 11 with Chicago, and led the 1985 Bears to the Super Bowl title led by Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Mike Singletary and William “The Refrigerator” Perry. Prior to his coaching career, Ditka was a standout tight end for the Bears and for Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys, and was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1988.
—Baltimore Ravens guard Marshal Yanda has escaped getting fined by the NFL for allegedly spitting on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, according to a published report.
Earlier in the week, Yanda, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, strongly denied accusations that he spit on Burfict. There is video evidence that displays Yanda spitting but he said it “100 percent” did not land on Burfict.
“I take a lot of pride in my character and how I was raised and the things I do day in and day out,” Yanda told reporters earlier in the week. “I would never, ever, spit on another man, another person, another individual — ever. On the field, off the field, never. That’s not the way I was raised, that’s not the way I raise my kids.”
—The New England Patriots will get Rob Gronkowski back for Sunday’s road game against the New York Jets.
“Good to go. Excited to be back out there on Sundays,” Gronkowski said. “I’m excited to be back out there, and I’ll be ready to roll.”
Gronkowski missed the past two games with nagging ankle and back injuries, but had the bye week afterward for additional recovery time. He is officially listed as questionable for Sunday.
—The Bengals officially downgraded wide receiver A.J. Green and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick to doubtful, a sign that both are likely to miss Sunday’s pivotal game against the Cleveland Browns.
Green, Cincinnati’s seven-time Pro Bowler, did not practice this week and has missed the past two games after suffering a toe injury on the final play of the Bengals’ Week 8 win over Tampa Bay on Oct. 28.
Kirkpatrick is battling a shoulder injury. The seven-year veteran has not missed a game this season and has 10 career interceptions. If Kirkpatrick does not play, he will likely be replaced by Darqueze Dennard.
—The Green Bay Packers placed linebacker Nick Perry on injured reserve and promoted defensive end James Looney from the practice squad.
Perry suffered a knee injury against the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 11. The 28-year-old Perry had just 1.5 sacks in nine games for the Packers this season after totaling 18 over the previous two seasons. He is in the second season of a five-year, $60 million deal.
Looney was a seventh-round pick out of California and has been on the practice squad all season. Also, cornerback Bashaud Breeland was fined $10,026 for a facemask penalty against Seattle, according to ESPN.
—Former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd has withdrawn the grievance that he filed with the NFL Players Association against the team, according to a report.
Floyd had filed the complaint because the Vikings had put him on the non-football injury list in 2017 instead of the physically-unable-to-perform list. Had he been on the latter list, he would have received his full salary of $6.76 million. Players on the non-football injury list are not required to be paid, though the Vikings had committed to giving him $2 million.
Floyd, 26, was a first-round pick (No. 23 overall) by the Vikings in 2013, but his career ended in 2016 after surgery for a knee injury. He has filed suit against famed orthopedist Dr. James Andrews over what he contends was a knee surgery gone wrong.
—Josh Allen is back in the saddle for the Buffalo Bills, and he will make his first start Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars since injuring his elbow Oct. 14.
The Bills (3-7) are ready for another look at the player they consider the future of the franchise, while the Jaguars are spiraling to an unexpected level of uncertainty amid a six-game losing streak.
Buffalo also is downplaying comments made in the offseason by Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey in which he referred to Allen as “trash.” Allen would not comment on the quotes attributed to Ramsey, instead only saying he’s “one of the best” cover cornerbacks in the NFL.
—Field Level Media