Mike Ditka to Kneeling Players: 'Get The Hell Out Of The Country'
Societal pressure just doesn’t work for someone like Mike Ditka.
The NFL Hall of Famer and Pitt Panther told TMZ Sports that he will not tolerate players of his X League (previously the Legends Football League) kneeling for the national anthem.
“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of our country.” the Carnegie native said. “That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old-fashioned, so I’m only going to say what I feel.”
The gesture of taking a knee during the national anthem before athletic games picked up steam in 2016 when then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled to protest racial injustice and police brutality against people of color.
However, the 80-year-old Ditka never warmed up to the idea.
Oppression: A Thing Of The Past?
The Hill reports Ditka has been against the protests since its inception.
In fact, the former Chicago Bears coach believes there is nothing to protest about. In 2017, he was quoted as saying: “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of.”
“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,” he went on to say.
However, he apologized about the statement and clarified that he was simply talking about oppression within the NFL organization.
“I have absolutely seen oppression in society in the last 100 years and I am completely intolerant [of it],” he said.
If there’s one thing Ditka won’t apologize for, though, it would be his stance against disrespecting the anthem and the American flag.
He told Fox News he will not change how he felt about the issue, even if he ends up receiving the same amount of backlash Drew Brees did before.
Recall that the New Orleans QB initially said he “would never agree with anyone disrespecting the flag” and implied that anyone who kneels in protest of police brutality are unpatriotic. Brees has apologized twice for this, in the harsh light of public shaming harassment he got for speaking his mind.
But it’s going to take a lot more than that to shake Ditka’s conviction. He has lived 80 years and has mastered many things, but backpedaling isn’t one of them.