December 11, 2007

Daaa Scam: Say it ain't so, Ditka: Ditka’s trust fund has paid only $57,000 to needy ex-players despite collecting $1.3 million, and Da Coach won’t explain the discrepancy.

posted by justgary to football at 07:21 PM - 11 comments

Obviously spent all the money on Levitra to "get himself in the game".

posted by Drood at 08:05 PM on December 11, 2007

That's curious, especially considering all the PR work he's done on their behalf in the first place. But considering who wrote the story, you'll pardon me if I wait for more evidence and/or an explanation from Ditka himself about this before I pick up my torch and pitchfork.

posted by chicobangs at 08:12 PM on December 11, 2007

Okay, parsing the article further (oh god, is he a terrible writer), Jay Mariotti's sources seem to be: 1) a quote from the NFLPA (who would love nothing more than to discredit the ex-players' movement), and 2) an undated, and possibly unrelated, statement from Ditka. What's more, both quotes were lifted directly from a single article in that bastion of investigative journalism, USA Today. So let me get this straight. He read a cut-&-pasted two-quote article in another tabloid and decided to go off on Mike Ditka about it? I don't know, maybe he could have dropped an ESPN interoffice email about this, maybe gotten Ditka's side of the story from the horse's mouth, maybe even done even two typed lines' worth of research. I'm not saying the story has no merit. It might. What I'm saying is that Jay Mariotti couldn't get to the bottom of this story with two hands and a flashlight.

posted by chicobangs at 08:24 PM on December 11, 2007

The story on ESPN tonight was that Ditka has liquidated the trust fund and split it between the charity for the retired players and a fund for youth. I don't have time to read the post (have to be at work in 15 minutes, we're shooting tonight), but I wanted to put this word out.

posted by Howard_T at 08:52 PM on December 11, 2007

I don't think it is uncommon for, say, a Trust to budget a 5% annual payout in order to preserve capital. 57,000 is about 5% of 1.3 million, and presumably the organization could pay that amount annually in perpetuity. I'm not saying this is the case, but it is possible.

posted by rumple at 08:55 PM on December 11, 2007

Hey, Howard -- shoot what? Oh, and Jay Mariotti. That's like getting your sports from the Weekly World News.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:02 PM on December 11, 2007

Gosh, this kind of smear job is just like getting kicked in the nuts when you consider what some of us have going on here and elsewhere. Have to follow up on that ESPN story ASAP, I guess. Gotta say, though, there are some points in the article that make me feel like I've been kicked in the nuts. That's right, I said kicked in the nuts again. Like gettin' kicked in the nuts ... I hope you're right, chico ... if it is just a smear job without any merit, then I'm only sick because of poor journalism like this being allowed to circulate freely. But if there is something to it ... gosh ... it's like a kick in the nuts.

posted by Spitztengle at 11:55 PM on December 11, 2007

Hey, Howard -- shoot what? We're up in the Nevada desert shooting missiles again (just little ones). The fun never stops. To clarify what I heard about the liquidation of the Ditka trust, half went to Gridiron Greats, and the other half to the youth charity. I have ESPN on now (it's 2:30 AM), and if there's anything else about it, I'll comment again.

posted by Howard_T at 04:43 AM on December 12, 2007

Here is a link to a Boston globe item about the liquidation of the Ditka Foundation.

posted by Howard_T at 05:19 AM on December 12, 2007

From the Globe article: Ditka said yesterday the fund's balance of more than $600,000 would be divided between Misericordia, a residential facility for developmentally disabled youth, and Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, another fund that helps ex-pro football players in need. Well, where to begin? The fact is that a lot of charitable fundraising smells a lot less rosy if you lift the wrapper to take a look. Professional fundraisers create campaigns that gross some impressive numbers, but then they make off with an enormous slice of the pie. Big-name used-to-bes account for a lot of what's left -- appearance fees are the rule, not the exception, and they ain't cheap. And then there are other expenses, like publicity and venues: yes, you can often get some donated time and materials, but not all of it, and what you can get takes time and legwork. The result is that many, quite possibly most "charities" direct a tiny amount of their gross to the ostensible beneficiaries. But almost no one wants to talk about those things, because the truth makes a cynic out of the grassroots donors; they stop giving, and the intended recipients don't get even the pittance that's left after the overhead. The fix, of course, is to do it another way...but that means that you have to do it yourself. You can't just write a check or buy some "portion of the proceeds benefit" chachki, you have to make the phone calls and pound the pavement and do the work, and you have to do it for free. Furthermore, you have to know how it's done, or be willing to take the lumps of learning on the job, because you'll be competing for charity dollars with the six-figure-salaried professional fundraisers. I don't see any suggestion that Ditka feathered his own nest through this "foundation". Perhaps his intentions were entirely good, although I think he's got a pretty strong self-promotion streak, and that that played a role. My guess is that he thought it would be a lot easier and more straightforward than it is. The foundation is being liquidated, which suggests to me that he just doesn't want to play any more. It looks a bit too much like work.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:37 AM on December 12, 2007

Not that I'm a fan of Mariotti or Ditka, both annoy the hell out of me, but I think it's worth pointing out that Mariotti is (at least now) a columnist and not a journalist. There's a big difference. Columnists' sole job is to spout "unique" opinions and perspective, not to report facts through a journalistic process. This may seem like splitting hairs, but it is a big difference. Columnists are basically the pre-historic blogger...

posted by Obleeze at 08:03 AM on December 12, 2007

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