Mike Ditka: “If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country”
Mike Ditka has a message for anyone planning on taking a knee for the American national anthem: 'If you can't respect it, get the hell out of the country'.
With the modified 2020 NFL season set to kick off in September, many players are expected to take a stand against racial injustices by taking a knee during the anthem before each game.
This comes after the worldwide 'Black Lives Matter' protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody back in May.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first NFL player to take a knee in 2016 in a protest against racism and police brutality, now more sports stars are expected to follow suit - and it doesn't sit well with Ditka.
The legendary Pro Football Hall of Fame coach - who famously guided the 1985 Chicago Bears to Super Bowl glory - confirmed his stance on the topic.
"If you can't respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country," Ditka told in a video interview with TMZ Sports.
WATCH : Mike Ditka says to TMZ that athletes who kneel the anthem should "get the hell out of the country" pic.twitter.com/s5mcvqcE9L- JPA (@jpafootball) July 26, 2020
"That's the way I feel. Of course, I'm old-fashioned. I'm only going to say what I feel.
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"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.
"So, I don't want to hear all the crap."
It's not the first time 80-year-old Ditka has failed to recognise racial injustices and growing tensions in the U.S.
In 2017, Ditka was quoted as saying: "There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of."
Speaking on a Monday Night Football broadcast, the former Super Bowl-winning tight end was slammed by fans for his comments about protests.
"Is this the stage for this?" he said.
"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."
Featured Image Credit: NFL