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Ex-Player Ditka Slams NFL Protests, Rejects Racism Claims

Football legend Mike Ditka, criticizing players who protest racial injustice by refusing to stand for the national anthem, said Monday night that there is “no oppression” in the United States.

Fox News reported that Ditka made the remark during the pregame show before a National Football League contest between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings. The former player and coach suggested that all Americans, whatever their race or religion might be, are treated equally. “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of,” he said. “Now, maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people.”

Ditka urged players to “respect the game.” He said that if he was in charge of a team, he would punish those who sit or kneel for “The Star Spangled Banner” by benching them. “I don’t care who you are or how much money you make. If you don’t respect our country, then you shouldn’t be in this country playing football,” Ditka declared. “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.’”

According to The Washington Post, the 77-year-old former gridiron star continued: “You have to be colorblind in this country … the opportunity is there for everybody.” He argued that the place to protest is at the “ballot box” and asked: “Is this the stage for this? 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. When you want to protest, protest when the game’s over, protest whatever other way you want to."

Ditka went on to stress that everyone should “respect” the president, regardless who it might be. The comments were part of his conversation with football analyst Jim Gray on the Westwood One television network. It was not the first time that Ditka has lashed out at players for “taking a knee” to express their outrage about police brutality and systemic racism. The controversy is one of many issues on which he agrees with President Trump, whose campaign he supported.

Ditka did not mince words in condemning Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started the protests in August 2016 by sitting during the anthem. The player told reporters that he was reacting to multiple incidents of white police officers killing unarmed black men. Ditka proclaimed that he had “no respect” for Kaepernick, adding: “My choice is that 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.”

Eagles player Malcolm Jenkins, who has taken part in the protests by holding his fist in the air during the anthem, told NBC Sports Philadelphia: “I think we’ve made (it) very clear that what we are demonstrating about has nothing to do with the flag but everything to do with social injustice (and) racial inequality.”

Source: Fox News Insider
Photo: YouTube

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