CHICAGO — NFL Hall of Fame members Mike Ditka and Joe DeLamielleure continued their war of words with NFL Players Assn. boss Gene Upshaw on Monday, and introduced hobbled former offensive lineman Brian DeMarco, 35, as a prime example of the union's indifference to the medical needs of scores of ex-players.
"This is unacceptable," Ditka thundered at a news conference organized by Gridiron Greats at his Chicago restaurant.
"We are past having committees. It's about right versus wrong. Do the right thing. Just do the right thing."
Spearheaded by Ditka, DeLamielleure and former Green Bay Packers star Jerry Kramer, GridironGreats.org has been providing direct financial assistance to needy former players such as DeMarco, who is unable to work and barely able to function as a result of lingering football-related injuries.
Monday's media event coincided with the launch of a major public donation drive. Ditka also used the occasion to fire back at former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, a member of the player union's pension and disability board, who was quoted in a Chicago Tribune article Sunday as saying Ditka "was not one who [cared] about the players or their injuries when he was coaching. He was very disrespectful of guys who got hurt and now he's trying to champion for a couple of guys. The fact of the matter is he's way off base and he's late in the game."