As the NFL prepares for the 2020 season, there will likely be more players than ever before kneeling during the national anthem. While they might have the support of teammates and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL legend Mike Ditka made it very clear he feels quite differently.
Mike Ditka: “If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out”
Mike Ditka has never been shy about expressing his opinions. From expressing strong support for Mitch Trubisky to predicting the Chicago Bears would win the Super Bowl, the 80-year-old lets his ideas fly.
With growing unrest around the country over police brutality and systemic inequalities, many players have joined in protests calling for change. With several NFL stars planning to kneel during the national anthem this season, Ditka made it clear to TMZ he believes that form of peaceful protest has no place in the country.
“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country,” Ditka said, via TMZ. “That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old fashioned, so I’m only going to say what I feel.”
Ditka, who said in 2017 there has been no oppression in the United States within the last 100 years, has frequently spoken to express his political views. A strong critic of Colin Kaepernick, Ditka is also a public supporter of President Donald Trump and believes no one should protest against the flag.
“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,” Ditka said, via TMZ. “So, I don’t want to hear all the crap.”
Notably, President Trump vowed in June he would boycott the NFL if players kneel during the national anthem. Given Goodell and the league intend to stand up to Trump this season, it will be interesting to see if Ditka boycotts the league, too.