Mike Ditka’s Ignorance Runs Deep And Will Never Change

    I don’t expect 78-year-old, ex-football players who probably dont have much of a brain left and are out of touch with societys ever-evolving standards of political correctness to coherently address major issues, but former Bears coach Mike Ditka is an example of over-the-hill, once revered sports figures who should have been retired to the muzzle years ago.  

    At a time when medias sole mission is to get people to honestly say something so that they can be ripped to pieces for it, Ditka should have known better when he appeared on Westwood Ones Monday Night Football pregame radio show with host Jim Gray before Chicago’s game against the Vikings. 

    Ditka who starred in the NFL in the 1960s and coached in the 80s and 90s, was asked about the protests during the anthem and whether he would bench players if they did anything but stand during the song.

    Here’s what he said:

    Yes, I dont care who you are, how much money you make. If you dont respect our country, then you shouldnt 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 wouldnt have a job. If you dont respect this flag and this country, then you dont know what this is all about. I would say, adios.

    Ditka went on to accuse todays players of making up the issues that sparked the original protests. 

    Sporting News on Twitter

    Mike Ditka: “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of.” https://t.co/Cligd1gTHL

    I dont know what social injustices [there] have been. Muhammad Ali rose to the top. Jesse Owens is one of the classiest individuals that ever lived. Is everything based on color? I dont see it that way. You have to be color blind in this country. You have to look at a person for what he is and what he stands for and how he produces not by the color of his skin. That has never had anything to do with anything.

    But, all of a sudden, it has become a big deal now about oppression. There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe Im 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. And we have watched that throughout our history of our country.

    People rise to the top and have become very influential people in our country by doing the right things. I dont think burning the flag, I dont think protesting the country, its not about the country. They are protesting maybe an individual, and thats wrong too. You have a ballot box, you have an election. Thats where you protest. You elect the person you want to be in office. And if you dont get that person in office, I think you respect the other one. Period.

    Twitter undoubtedly went in on Ditka.

    Andrew Hammond on Twitter

    Mike Ditka played during the civil rights era, Mike played in the NFL where there was still a quota system for black players. https://t.co/dvCcgenLog

    But whos surprised by Ditkas response? We all knew what he’s about. World War 2 was just popping off when he was born in 1939 in a small town in Pennsylvania. Every house on the block probably had an American flag and a son in the service. 

    If anything, Ditka grew up at a time where the racism was more blatant. Ditka is white, but his philosophies are shared by many people of color his same age. They all think people living today of all races, creeds and gender have it way better than when they were growing up. Ditka isn’t necessarily racist but definitely ignorant. Hes a product of his era as far as his philosophies go and Im sure you could find 100 players to attest to the fact that hes not racist. Ditka is known for siding with the establishment throughout his career on issues of player’s rights. And this isn’t the first time he appears out of touch on race relations, so don’t be surprised at his answers if you ask him those questions.

    David Stehle on Twitter

    Mike Ditka’s comments don’t shock me. The majority of old white men are ignorant to social injustices. https://t.co/3q1Jykyi3B #NFL

    Although it still doesn’t excuse his ignorance, Ditka is old and white. When Im 80 years old Im going to say what the hell I feel too and probably view the current society as ungrateful and weakened by feelings of privilege and wont give a damn who doesnt like it.

    If we dont really want to hear Ditka’s opinions then dont ask him the question. Hes too old to play the politically correct game and won’t change.   

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.