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Mike Ditka on a lockout: “I just can’t believe anybody is that stupid”

Mike Ditka understands the labor side of things as a longtime NFL tight end, and he understands the management side of things as a former head coach. And he says he can’t fathom how labor and management can’t reach a deal to make sure there’s football in 2011 and beyond.

“I hear that [lockout] talk and I just can’t believe anybody is that stupid,” Ditka said Thursday on ESPN Radio in Chicago. “If the owners or the players are that stupid that they are going to shoot this golden goose . . . I mean it’s laying golden eggs. It’s a multibillion dollar business. It’s the most popular sport in this country, don’t kill it.”

Ditka, who was the Bears’ head coach during the players’ strikes of 1982 and 1987, says he thinks the union and the owners just need to be willing to find some common ground.

“I think right now you have power struggles,” Ditka said. “They say, ‘Well, we’re not going to give in to them,’ and ‘We’re not going to give in to them.’ Timeout. Somewhere along the way you come to a happy medium. You get to the middle and there’s a little give and take on both sides. For the good of the game . . . what happened to that statement? For the good of the game we continue to play, everybody continues to prosper, nobody gets cheated out of anything.”

One of the reasons for the rancor between the players and the owners is that they can’t necessarily agree about what constitutes “the good of the game.” But Ditka no doubt speaks for many fans when he says the idea of shutting down the NFL in 2011 is stupid.