When the 2020 NFL season begins, it's very likely players will kneel during the national anthem to protest the systemic racism going on in the country. That doesn't sit well with former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka, who recently called out players who take a knee during the national anthem. The Pro Football Hall of Famer recently spoke to TMZ about why he feels players should stand when the Star-Spangled Banner is played before games.
"If you can't respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country," Ditka said. "That's the way I feel. 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."
This statement is not the first time Ditka has expressed his feelings about players kneeling. Before an NFL game in 2017, Ditka was interviewed by radio host Jim Gray and said: "If you don't respect our country, then you shouldn't be in this country playing football… So I would say, adios." Here's a look at what fans had to say about Ditka's comments.
Dear Mike Ditka: I’m a US Marine who served this Nation with his life. Yet I’ve NEVER felt it my place to tell anyone to “get the hell out of the country.” Let that sink in.
PS: Athletes kneel to raise awareness for racial injustice. And you’re exactly one of the reasons why. https://t.co/FEibCZsrwE— MuslimMarine (@mansoortshams) July 26, 2020
The views expressed of Mike Ditka are nothing new for him. He's just playing his greatest hits on repeat. Wrote this in 2016. https://t.co/jUIu0aSYr0— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) July 26, 2020
Ditka (and many others) say “if you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country.” What should we do with those who don’t respect the Constitution which says we have the rights of free speech and freedom of assembly? https://t.co/VpAlJgR10o— Stan Van Gundy (@realStanVG) July 26, 2020
Legendary NFL coach Mike Ditka just said this in an interview:
“If you can’t respect our National Anthem, get the hell out of the country.”
AMEN!— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) July 26, 2020
Mike Ditka is a joke. The world passed him by a long time ago. But he’s going to show up and vote, which is why you have to show up and vote.— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) July 26, 2020
Mike Ditka: Athletes who kneel should be kicked out of the country.
Mike Ditka's entire life was made by athletes who would have been, for their skin color, killed by the cops whose actions the kneeling is protesting.— JRehling (@JRehling) July 26, 2020
The next time Mike Ditka says something dumb, just remember he played in this helmet and it's really a miracle he ever makes any sense at all. pic.twitter.com/n5gkvEdi6I— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) July 25, 2020
Does that include combat veterans? Veterans? Active duty personnel who oppose racism, bigotry, bad policing, corruption? Drs, nurses, teachers? https://t.co/cFmsLc6AGS— RETIRED MASTER CHIEF⚓️ (@CMCRET) July 26, 2020
Saying that these athletes are protesting the flag, Military, or Anthem—you are choosing to listen to your bias and not their actual words. You’re simply ignoring their repeated statements, in order to perpetuate the narrative you need.#MikeDitka https://t.co/Y0IMkIxwgd— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) July 26, 2020
If you can't respect the tradition of non-violent protest enshrined in our Bill of Rights, Mike Ditka, then get the hell out of the country...https://t.co/gUSK4JzC6O— Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) July 26, 2020
Democrats are pissed off Mike Ditka told kneeling athletes to get the hell out of the country.
They don’t want Ditka to exercise his 1st Amendment rights.
That’s exactly what fascists do.— Andrew Pollack (@AndrewPollackFL) July 27, 2020
Everyone listen up, Mike Ditka has something to say! pic.twitter.com/Zc9JxI4LB2— PoliticalGroove (@PoliticalGroove) July 26, 2020
Mike Ditka said people who don’t respect the National Anthem should get the Hell Out of America.
I 100% agree.
You?— Catturd ™ (@catturd2) July 26, 2020
Gosh, listening to Mike Ditka here reminds me of the good old days when men were truly men and they didn't give a crap if you were offended 🤣 Mike calls it "old fashioned," I call it "truth,"https://t.co/EUnFYzZr1B— ✭ Wayne Dupree ✭ (@WayneDupreeShow) July 26, 2020
A few years ago Mike Ditka actually said, “there has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of.” This coming from a guy who played in the 60s when discrimination was so bad there was an all-star game boycott. Please feel free to permanently ignore anything he says.— Adam Best (@adamcbest) July 26, 2020
BTW, Mike Ditka being a racist asshole has been on my bingo card since 1985.— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) July 26, 2020
Dear Mike Ditka,— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) July 27, 2020
I'd consider leaving America.
Unfortunately, @realDonaldTrump has so badly botched this pandemic that we can't leave and no countries would have us even if we could.
Instead, I'll stay and I'll oppose thick-headed people who conflate racism with patriotism.
The joke is on old fools like Mike Ditka, James Woods & Jon Voight. All these guys are going to be remembered the exact same way bigots like George Wallace are. Just trashing their already irrelevant legacies. He could only win 1 Superbowl with that defense & Payton. Enough said. https://t.co/SZPJV9ynwc— citizen uprising (@cit_uprising) July 27, 2020
Mike Ditka is a meathead.https://t.co/uDajAlcdXW— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) July 26, 2020
Somebody tell #MikeDitka if he can’t respect the constitution and the right of its citizens to peacefully protest, then GET THE HELL OUT OF THIS COUNTRY!!!— jerome felton (@jfelton45) July 26, 2020