Ditka, who played tight end and was a longtime coach of the Chicago Bears, was already at his home on Friday when he was contacted by the media. He said he was fine, and that the stroke was very minor. The NFL Hall of Famer was reportedly playing a game of cards at a country club near his home on Friday when he noticed his body behaving strangely.
“I feel good right now and it’s not a big deal,” Ditka told Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune and National Football Post.
He said his hands began shaking and not working right, and that his speech began becoming increasingly slurred. He sought medical attention and was found to have had a stroke.
The 73-year-old has had few known health problems since a heart attack suffered when he was still coaching in 1988.
This recent setback is expected to deter Ditka from appearing on ESPN this weekend, according to the network. In addition to his work with ESPN, Ditka owns a restaurant and makes personal appearances.
Ditka began his professional career as a tight end with the Bears in 1961, when he was named rookie of the year. He went on to win selection to the next five Pro Bowls. He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1967, and then to the Dallas Cowboys, where he finished his playing career after 12 years.