Former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka hasn’t changed his stance about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. Ditka spoke to TMZ Sports to promote X League, the women’s football league he is now owner and chairman of, and he later shared his thoughts on players’ plans to protest. “These women are pretty and good looking and want to knock the crap out of each other — we’ll see how it works,” Ditka said about X League.
He also added that while he doesn’t see a female football league ever surpassing the NFL in popularity, he still thinks football should be an equal opportunity sport. “If women want to play a man’s sport — I call tackle football a man’s sport — go ahead and do it,” Ditka said. But when it comes to NFL players kneeling during the anthem as a form of peaceful protest against racism and police brutality, Ditka isn’t as open-minded.
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Ditka on Kneeling: ‘Get the Hell Out of the Country’
When TMZ asked Ditka if he would allow kneeling in the X League games, he didn’t hesitate in his response.
“If it was up to me, I’d say no. 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 when I feel. I think there’s a way you protest, and there’s a way you don’t protest. You don’t protest against the flag, and you don’t protest against this country has 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. You want to try it, try it. You don’t, it’s okay.”
Some people have already spoken out against Ditka’s comments, including former Bears cornerback Jerry Azumah, who played with the team from 1999-2005. Azumah retweeted an article about Ditka’s comments, adding nothing but several clown emojis in response.
Former NBA head coach and current analyst Stan Van Gundy was also critical of Ditka’s assessment of the situation.
🤡 🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡 https://t.co/W4NT5ubf1M
— Jerry Azumah (@JerryAzumah) 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
These Comments Are Nothing New for Ditka
Ditka said pretty much the exact same thing on the “Shan & RJ” show back in 2016 when he was asked about players like Colin Kaepernick kneeling. “Anybody who disrespects this country and the flag. If they don’t like the country they don’t like our flag, get the hell out,” he said at the time.
“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,” Ditka said. “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.”
You can watch the segment with Ditka with TMZ Sports below: