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ESPN Ditka Reflects On Shooting Tragedy

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Former Chicago Bears coach and ESPN personality Mike Ditka got his Scrooge on Monday taping an Ebenezer-inspired NFL Sunday Countdown promo at Hartford Stage.

The promo has become a tradition of sorts for Ditka who each year for the past several, takes on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, and hits the stage, batting around wildcard choices, running backs, quarterbacks and division winners with the innocent Tiny Tim.

In the bit, eight-year-old Ethan Pancoast of Rocky Hill, who is playing Tim in the Stage’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” prodded the cranky Scrooge with a series of questions on football-related topics including whether the Vikings Adrian Peterson could garner an MVP award, whether the Jets are worthy of a wild card berth, and whether or not the grumpy old man believes in the Cincinnati Bengals.

And between “bah hambugs,” Ditka answered them all, hunched over a desk and sporting a top hat.

But before taking on the persona of the Charles Dickens character best known as being cold-hearted, tight-fisted and greedy, Ditka was a dad and grandfather, lamenting the Sandy Hook school tragedy.

“I have three grandchildren and it is a sad, unbelievable tragedy,” said Ditka, reflecting on the days after Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “I can’t believe what has been taken away,” he said. “May they be in a better place.”

The promo airs on ESPN on Dec. 23.