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Former Chicago Bears head coach and NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka had some questionable comments on the ongoing protests throughout professional football.
Speaking on Westwood One’s “Monday Night Football” pregame show, Ditka was asked if it would be his policy to sit players who knelt during the anthem were he still coached. Ditka took it one step further and suggested that players who kneel should leave the country altogether.
“Yes, I don’t care who you are, how much money you make. If you don’t respect our country, then you shouldn’t be in this country playing football. Go to another country and play football. If you had to go somewhere else and try to play the sport, you wouldn’t have a job. If you don’t respect this flag and this country, then you don’t know what this is all about. I would say, adios.”
NFL protests during the anthem have again become a hot-button issue after President Trump called for players that take part in the protests to be fired in September.
Ditka took his comments a step further.
While his initial comments implied that he believed the protests were about respecting the country, Ditka would later bring up the actual focus of the protests – social injustice and the oppression of black people – and dismiss it entirely.
“I don’t know what social injustices [there] have been. Muhammad Ali rose to the top. Jesse Owens is one of the classiest individuals that ever lived. Are you talking everything based on color? I don’t see it that way. 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.”
“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. I think the opportunity is there for everybody – race, religion, creed, color, nationality. If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort in, you can accomplish anything. And we have watched that throughout our history of our country.”
Chances are focus on protests of this nature will continue to be something of a political issue. With Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones now telling his players they will not be able to play if they kneel during the anthem and the White House protesting the NFL, it’s likely the anthem will be in the news for quite some time.