I don't expect 78-year-old, ex-football players who probably don’t have much of a brain left and are out of touch with society’s 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 media’s 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 One’s 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 don’t care who you are, how much money you make. If you don’t respect our country, then you shouldn’t 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 wouldn’t have a job. If you don’t respect this flag and this country, then you don’t know what this is all about. I would say, adios.”
Ditka went on to accuse today’s players of making up the issues that sparked the original protests.
Mike Ditka: "There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of." https://t.co/Cligd1gTHL
“I don’t 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 don’t 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 I’m 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 don’t think burning the flag, I don’t think protesting the country, it’s not about the country. They are protesting maybe an individual, and that’s wrong too. You have a ballot box, you have an election. That’s where you protest. You elect the person you want to be in office. And if you don’t get that person in office, I think you respect the other one. Period.”
Twitter undoubtedly went in on Ditka.
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 who’s surprised by Ditka’s 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. He’s a product of his era as far as his philosophies go and I’m sure you could find 100 players to attest to the fact that he’s 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.
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 I’m 80 years old I’m going to say what the hell I feel too and probably view the current society as ungrateful and weakened by feelings of privilege and won’t give a damn who doesn’t like it.
If we don’t really want to hear Ditka's opinions then don’t ask him the question. He’s too old to play the politically correct game and won't change.