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Hall of Fame NFL coach Mike Ditka tripled down on his stance against protests during the National Anthem, once again telling players to “go to another country” if don’t like the United States.
Speaking with Newsmax TV on Monday, the former Chicago Bears coach said that playing professional football is an incredible “privilege” that few enjoy.
“Football’s football. It’s not a complicated thing. You’re playing the game, you’re enjoying the game. You don’t like the game, get out of it,” Ditka said. “It’s not for protesting one way or the other. What color you are, what you think, this or that. You play football. That’s it. You’re privileged. You got a gift from God that you can play the game because you got a body you can do it with. I don’t really understand what you’re protesting. I played the game. I coached the game for a long time. It makes no sense to me.”
Ditka then advised those players protesting to leave the country if they do not like it here.
“I would tell those players go to another country and play football there,” he said. “You don’t have to come out. You don’t have to come out if you go to another country. You can’t! Because the game’s only played in this country. And if you can’t respect this country, get the hell out of it.”
NFL 🏈: Hall-of-Fame coach Mike Ditka tells protesting players that if 'they can't respect this country, get the hell out of it.' [with Newsmax TV's @ShaunKraisman https://t.co/VlT7z8drtO] pic.twitter.com/E3jPCBrMdt
— Newsmax (@newsmax) September 14, 2020
Mike Ditka has been an outspoken opponent of the National Anthem protests going all the way back to 2016 when he said that former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick should “get the hell out” of the United States if he wants to disrespect the country. Over the summer, at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, Ditka repeated this sentiment.
“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,” said Ditka. “I think there’s a way you protest and a way you don’t protest. You don’t protest against the flag and you don’t protest against this country who’s given you the opportunity to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen. So, I don’t want to hear all the crap. You wanna try it, try it. You don’t, it’s okay.”
As The Daily Wire reported last week, ratings for the NFL season opener for Thursday Night Football were markedly lower than those of the previous year, though it’s not clear if anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests played into the decline in viewership.
“The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs’ 34-20 victory over the Houston Texans averaged about 19.3 million viewers on NBC, according to preliminary ratings,” reported The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s down about 13 percent from the 22.12 million who watched last year’s kickoff, but ahead of the 19 million who tuned in for the 2018 kickoff.”