NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka has come under fire recently for his comments about kneeling during the national anthem. A self-proclaimed “old-fashioned” man, of course he has a problem with athletes taking a knee to protest police brutality.
“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country,” said Ditka in a recent interview with TMZ Sports. “That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old-fashioned. I’m only going to say what I feel.”
Ditka was speaking in reference to the players on the Extreme Football League, a women’s tackle league originally founded in 2009. Ditka is a chairman for the league and was expressing to TMZ that he would not support any of the “X” League players kneeling during the anthem.
The Extreme Football League was originally founded as the Lingerie Football League and was later rebranded in 2013 to the Legends Football League. They have teams from Denver, Green Bay, Baltimore, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago and Omaha.
He continues, “You don’t protest against the flag and you don’t protest against this country who’s given you the opportunities to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen. So, I don’t want to hear all that crap.”
Ditka is a household name in the world of football. Back in his playing days, he was a tight-end for the Chicago Bears, the Eagles, the Cowboys and the Panthers. He then went on to coach the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints where he became the only person in the NFLhistory to win a Super Bowl as a player, an assistant coach and as a head coach. In 1985 and 1988, Ditka was voted as the NFL Coach of the Year.
According to For the Win, Ditka has always been against kneeling for the anthem. Back in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick started the kneeling movement, the coach was adamantly against his actions often speaking out against the former 49s player. He would say things like “respect the game, play the game,” and on multiple occasions told those kneeling to “get the hell out” of the country.
Back in 2017, he was recorded stating that oppression and racism simply doesn’t exist anymore. “I don’t know what social injustices [there] have been… Are you talking that everything is based on color? I don’t see it that way. I think you have to be color blind in this country. You have to look at a person for what he is and what he stands for and how he produces, not by the color of his skin. That has never had anything to do with anything,” he said. “But, all of a sudden, it has become a big deal now, about oppression. There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people.”