Former NFL coach Mike Ditka has never been an ally in the struggle of African Americans—he just coached black players—but he’s a bigot nonetheless. Never forget that for every edition of the cover of ESPN’s magazine showing then-New Orleans Saints coach Ditka posing as the unhappy groom next to running back Ricky Williams is another portrait of Ditka, the sports icon who wants those who kneel during the national anthem to “find another country.”
Here’s Ditka stance on Colin Kaepernick’s protest against the killings of unarmed black men, women and children, from the Shan & RJ radio show:
“I think it’s a problem. 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. 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.”
Ditka, 77, is also a Donald Trump supporter, so there is that.
On Monday, Ditka, the man who once coached a team that gave the world this piece of jewelry, claims that there has been no oppression of blacks in the last 100 years and that players should “respect the game.”
“Is this the stage for this?” Ditka said during an interview with Jim Gray. “If you want to protest, or whatever you want to protest, you’ve got a right to do that. But I think you’re a professional athlete. You have an obligation to the game.”
“I don’t see a lot of respect for the game, I just see respect for their own individual opinions. … Respect the game, play the game,” Ditka continued. “When you want to protest, protest when the game’s over, protest whatever other way you want to.”
This is a common opinion held by those who don’t believe the players are people off the field: the idea that they should be able to protest, but not during business hours, and surely not during a game and not in uniform, and actually not at the stadium.
Ditka added that if he were still a coach, he would demand that his players stand for the anthem.
“Yes. I don’t care who you are, or how much money you make. If you don’t respect our country, you shouldn’t be in this country playing football,” he said. “Go to another country and play football. If you had to go to somewhere else and try to play this sport, you wouldn’t have a job.
“If you can’t respect the flag and this country, then you don’t respect what this is all about, so I would say: Adios,” he said.
Also, did I mention that Ditka is a Trump supporter? So, there is that.