Hall of Famer Mike Ditka has made his views on the ongoing NFL protests during the national anthem very clear over the years. On Monday, the former player and coach echoed those previous comments in a telephone interview with Newsmax.
Ditka had this to say about the ongoing NFL protests:
“Football’s football. It’s not a complicated thing. You’re playing the game, you’re enjoying the game. You don’t like the game, get out of it. It’s not for protesting one way or the other. What color you are, what you think, this or that. You play football. That’s it. You’re privileged. You got a gift from God that you can play the game because you got a body you can do it with. I don’t really understand what you’re protesting. I played the game, I coached the game for a long time. It makes no sense to me.”
The coach continued by saying:
“I would tell those players go to another country and play football there. You don’t have to come out. Don’t have to come out if you go to another country. You can’t! Because the game’s only played in this country. And if you can’t respect this country, get the hell out of it.”
Mike Ditka Stands Firm on NFL Protests
Coach Ditka told players who kneel during the anthem, or protest in other ways, that “if they can’t respect this country, get the hell out of it.” He basically said the exact same thing over the summer in July during an interview with TMZ Sports.
“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country. That’s the way I feel,” Ditka said in the interview. “Of course, I’m old fashioned. So, I’m only going to say what I feel … 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 the crap.”
In fact, Ditka has been consistent with his opinion since the protests began with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem in 2016. Ditka thought the protest was disrespectful to the American flag, and obviously still feels the same today.
Ditka spent over five decades around the NFL as a player, coach, and later an analyst. He was inducted into both the college football and NFL Hall of Fames. Ditka won the Super Bowl as a player, as an assistant coach, and as a head coach.
[H/T USA Today]