Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka said he's feeling stronger on the heels of suffering a heart attack approximately three weeks ago.
The legendary tight end and former head coach of the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints said doctors placed four stents and a pacemaker in his chest following the heart attack, which initially occurred on a golf course on Nov. 21. His playing partners rushed him to the clubhouse and into an ambulance, which took him to a hospital in Naples, Fla.
"I got my [expletive] kicked pretty good there, but I'm feeling a lot better," the 79-year-old Ditka told The Athletic. "Every day I get stronger. I'm not exerting myself. When I exert myself is when I can feel it. So things are good. If you had asked me two weeks ago, I couldn't have said that."
Ditka said he is adjusting to slowing down as a means to help improve his health.
"I'm just going to take it easy," he said. "I realize that I have been riding 'em hard and putting up wet for a lot of years. Time to slow down. I'm not getting any younger. You're only going to live 'til you die anyway. So it's been a hell of a run.
"You always think it's not going to happen to me until it happens to you. And then there is nothing you can do about it because it just kicks your butt so bad. You know, the greatest gift we have from God is life. But life without health is not worth a darn."
It was the second heart attack suffered by Ditka. He also had one in November 1988 while coaching the Bears and was back on the sideline less than two weeks later.
However, Ditka may be best known for his tenure as head coach of the Bears, the team that made him the No. 5 overall pick in the 1961 NFL Draft.
The man known as "Iron Mike" coached Chicago for 11 years and his teams reflected the "City of Broad Shoulders" image -- particularly the 1985 squad that ranked as one of the best defensive teams in league history.
The Bears rolled to a 15-1 record that season and steamrolled three opponents in the playoffs, capped by a 46-10 demolition of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.
Ditka fashioned a 106-62-0 record in his 11 seasons with the Bears before going on to coach the Saints for three seasons. He owns a 121-95-0 career record as a head coach.
As a player, Ditka had his lone 1,000-yard season as a rookie in 1961, averaging 19.2 yards on 56 catches while establishing a career high with 12 touchdowns to earn the first of five consecutive Pro Bowl berths.
For his career, Ditka had 427 receptions for 5,812 yards and 43 touchdowns in 158 games. He also won a championship with the Cowboys in Super Bowl VI.
Ditka later served as an NFL analyst for both NBC and ESPN.