Former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick made headlines worldwide in 2016 when he protested in opposition of police brutality against African Americans by taking a knee during the US national anthem before football games
Mike Ditka of the NFL 100 All-Time Team is honoured on the field prior to Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium on 02 February, 2020 in Miami, Florida: (2020 Getty Images) NFL hall of famer Mike Ditka has said that players who kneel during the US national anthem as a protest against police brutality should “get the hell out of the country”.
Ditka, who won the Super Bowl three times during his American football playing career is now the commissioner of women’s competition, the Extreme Football League.
When asked by TMZ if the players in the league should kneel during the national anthem, the former Chicago Bears coach replied: “If it was up to me, I’d say no.”
The 80-year-old added: “If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country. That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old fashioned. So, I’m only going to say what I feel.”
The league’s season was postponed earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and has been scheduled to return in April 2021, according to CNN .
Former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick made headlines worldwide in 2016 when he protested in opposition of police brutality against African Americans by taking a knee during the US national anthem before football games.
Similar protests have taken place in sports across the world in recent months, following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd , while in the custody of a then Minneapolis police officer.
The death of Breonna Taylor by police also sparked protests and last weekend WNBA players wore her name on the back of their shirts, alongside other women who have died because of police brutality and racial violence, as they returned to playing.
Speaking to TMZ, Ditka, who has previously been vocal with his support for Donald Trump, added: “I think there’s a way you protest, and there’s a way you don’t protest.
“You don’t protest against the flag, and you don’t protest against this country who has given you the opportunity to make a living, playing a sport, you never thought would happen. So, I don’t want to hear all the c**p. You want to try it, try it. You don’t, it’s okay.”
Ditka has commented on player’s kneeling before, and he caused controversy in 2017 when he told told KWQC that “there has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of” in the US.
Story continues The 80-year-old’s comments were criticised by NFL agent David Mulugheta, who on Monday accused the former player of “trading his helmet in for a white hood as soon as he retired from football”.
Dikta isn’t a racist simply because he believes people should stand for the anthem, it’s because of his many racist beliefs. One example, he claims “there has been no oppression in the last 100 years.” To be clear, segregation ended less than 55 years ago. So yea he’s a racist 🤷🏾♂️
— David Mulugheta (@DavidMulugheta)
July 27, 2020
In a post on Twitter, Mr Mulugheta claimed that “Dikta isn’t a racist simply because he believes people should stand for the anthem, it’s because of his many racist beliefs. One example, he claims ‘there has been no oppression in the last 100 years.’
“To be clear, segregation ended less than 55 years ago. So yea he’s a racist,” the agent claimed.
Ditka later apologised for his comments in 2017 and said that the “interview was about the NFL and the related issues”, and added: “I have absolutely seen oppression in society in the last 100 years and I am completely intolerant of any discrimination.”
Read more Kaepernick a reminder of the perils of being the first to take a stand
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