Ditka becomes minority owner of Rush

CHICAGO -- Mike Ditka became a minority owner of the Chicago
Rush of Arena Football on Thursday.

The Chicago icon joins the likes of fellow Pro Football Hall of
Famer John Elway (Colorado) and music stars Jon Bon Jovi
(Philadelphia) and Tim McGraw (Nashville) as a team owner in the
indoor league.

"I love Arena Football and am excited to become an owner of the
Rush," Ditka said "I have been watching as the league has turned
into the fastest-growing sport in the country. Its strong ownership
group and national TV contract with NBC were big influences on my
decision to become involved.

"As for the Rush, over the past four years this team has
developed into one of the premier franchises in the AFL, and my
goal is to help the team continue to prosper both on and off the

This is the first time he's been part owner of a pro football

Currently an ESPN analyst on Sunday NFL Countdown , Ditka began his NFL career
in 1961 with the Bears as a first-round draft pick. Ditka spent six
seasons with the Bears and was the 1961 Offensive Rookie of the
Year. He played for the 1963 NFL championship team.

A five-time Pro Bowl player, he also played for Philadelphia and
Dallas, retired from playing after the 1972 season and, in 1988,
became the first tight end inducted into the Pro Football Hall of

He was hired as Bears coach in 1982 and led the team to the 1985
NFL title, when he was voted Coach of the Year. He won that award
again in 1988.

Ditka also coached the New Orleans Saints from 1997-99.

"What a perfect match, the man known as Iron Mike joining
forces with the league known for Ironman football," said AFL
commissioner David Baker.

The Rush begins its fifth season in January.