Legendary Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka is telling protesting NFL players just where he thinks they belong.
Ditka, a Hall of Fame tight end and coach who led the 1985 Bears to a Super Bowl win, has been standing foursquare against protests that take the form of disrespect for the national anthem ever since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made the protests trendy back in 2016
“I have no respect for Colin Kaepernick — he probably has no respect for me, that’s his choice,” Ditka said in a 2016 interview with KRLD-FM. “My choice is, I like this country, I respect our flag, and I don’t see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on.”
NFL 🏈: Hall-of-Fame coach Mike Ditka tells protesting players that if ‘they can’t respect this country, get the hell out of it.’ [with Newsmax TV’s @ShaunKraisman https://t.co/VlT7z8drtO] pic.twitter.com/E3jPCBrMdt
— Newsmax (@newsmax) September 14, 2020
“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,” Ditka said Monday.
Ditka said politics does not belong in the game.
“It’s not for protesting one way or the other — what color you are, what you think, this or that,” he said.
Players do not understand how lucky they are to be where they are, he added.
“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.
“You ought to get down on your hands and knees and thank God every day that you can make the kind of money you can make playing football. Or playing any sport,” he said.
“I would tell those players, go to another country and play football there,” Ditka added. “You don’t have to come out. You don’t have to come out for the anthem 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.”
Ditka’s comments provoked a strong reaction on Twitter:
I wonder if Ditka ever had a conversation with his teammates or the players he coached about the reality of being black in America?
I’m guessing not.https://t.co/skPrrkScWu
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) September 15, 2020
Mike Ditka was awesome this morning!!! “I would tell these players to “get the hell out”! pic.twitter.com/qTSfEg4toY
— Jill V (@Flirtyflipper) September 14, 2020
“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country,” Ditka said then. “That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old fashioned, so I’m only going to say what I feel.”
“I that that there’s a way you protest and there’s a way you don’t protest,” he said. “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 added.
Ditka said too many whiners fail to see opportunities that are all around them.
“I see opportunities if people want to look for opportunity — now if they don’t want to look for them — then you can find problems with anything, but this is the land of opportunity because you can be anything you want to be if you work. If you don’t work … that’s a different problem,” he said.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.