Mike Ditka on NFL protests: ‘No oppression in the last 100 years that I know of’


GLENDALE, AZ – JANUARY 25: Former American football player, coach, and television commentator Mike Ditka during the 2015 Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 25, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Legendary NFL coach Mike Ditka weighed in on the national anthem protests happening around the NFL during an interview on “Monday Night Football.”

Ditka, 77, was speaking with NBC’s Jim Gray prior to Monday night’s game between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings and was asked about Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to leave a football game on Sunday when players knelt during the national anthem, The Washington Post reports.

In the interview, Ditka told Gray he sees “no oppression” and believes protesting the national anthem is not the right way to solve any issues.

“There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of,” Ditka said, according to the New York Post. “Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody — race, religion, creed, color, nationality. If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort in, you can accomplish anything.”

The Hall of Fame coach continued, stating that he would say “adios” if a player “can’t respect the flag and this country.”

“If you don’t respect our country, then you shouldn’t be in this country playing football. Go to another country and play football. If you had to go somewhere else and try to play the sport, you wouldn’t have a job… If you don’t respect this flag and this country, then you don’t know what this is all about.”

On Sunday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he would bench any player who disrespects the flag.

“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said. “You understand? If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play. Period.”

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