Former National Football League (NFL) coach Mike Ditka says he disagrees with the protests during the national anthem sweeping through the organization.
“I don’t see all the social injustice that some of these people see,” he said on Westwood One’s “Monday Night Football” pregame show.
“But, all of a sudden, it has become a big deal now – about oppression,” Ditka added. “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of.”
“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.”
Some Twitter users on Tuesday debated Ditka’s remarks about the fierce national debate over the NFL’s handling of social issues.
As a Bears fan, I find Mike Ditka, in this matter, to be a willfully ignorant, entitled, obtuse, and privileged jerk.— Songstress TEBF (@SongstressTEBF) October 10, 2017
Ditka added that if he was a NFL coach he would bench players who do not stand for the national anthem.
“If you don’t respect our country, then you shouldn’t be in this country playing football,” he said. “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,” the former Chicago Bears coach added.
“If you don’t respect this flag and this country, then you don’t know what this is all about. I would say, adios.”
Scores of NFL coaches, executives and players have knelt during the national anthem after President Trump derided the gesture last month.
Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday left a NFL game in Indianapolis after several players performed the controversial gesture.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to demonstrate against America’s racial injustice.
Supporters argue the move is a valid expression of free speech, while detractors view it as unpatriotic.