November 24, 2018 / 4:42 PM / 20 days ago

Former Bears coach Ditka suffers heart attack

FILE PHOTO: Former National Football League player and coach Mike Ditka listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington September 18, 2007. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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, 79, remained in a Florida hospital, where his recovery was being monitored.

Ditka coached the Chicago Bears for 11 seasons, including the 1985 Super Bowl champion led by Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Mike Singletary and William “The Refrigerator” Perry. Ditka’s Bears made the playoffs seven times with three appearances in the NFC championship game.

Prior to his coaching career, Ditka was a standout tight end for the Bears and for Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys, with whom he won a Super Bowl. Ditka was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1988.

While Ditka returned to coaching with the New Orleans Saints after bring fired by the Bears, that gig was short-lived.

Ditka was also a studio analyst for ESPN’s NFL programming, including “Sunday Countdown” until 2016.

He is a popular pitchman in the Chicago area with a restaurant and his own line of products ranging from salsa to wine.

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