Less than a week after calling President Barack Obama “the worst president we’ve ever had,” Mike Ditka lost his job on ESPN’s marquee Sunday football program.
The Big Lead reports that the cable network hired Matt Hasselbeck to replace Ditka on Sunday NFL Countdown. Hasselbeck performed well in relief for an injured Andrew Luck this past season. He threw nine touchdowns to five picks and went 5-3 as a starter. But at 40, and with brother Tim enjoying a successful run as an analyst at ESPN, the 18-year NFL veteran opted to call it a career and start a new career in broadcasting.
“Obama is the worst president we’ve ever had,” Ditka told a New York radio station last week, adding that the commander in chief is “not a leader.” The Pro Football Hall of Famer expressed a preference for Donald Trump for president.
Immediately, the comments set off widespread speculation about whether the words would result in the demise of the Super Bowl-winning coach and player at the network. Ditka joined ESPN in 2004 after stints with CBS and NBC.
ESPN has refrained from commenting on what role, if any, Ditka’s criticism of the president led to him losing his job on Sunday NFL Countdown. The Big Lead reports that Ditka will stay on at the network in a diminished capacity.