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Mike Ditka tells athletes that protest the National Anthem to “get the hell out of the country”

Bears head coach Mike Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan are carried around the field after they defeated New England 46-10 to win Super Bowl XX in New Orleans.

Brian Linder

The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.

Mike Ditka isn’t a fan of national anthem protests, and that might be putting it mildly.

The legendary NFL head coach, who played high school football at Aliquippa, was trending Sunday because of the message he had for players who might kneel during the national anthem.

“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country,” Ditka told TMZ. “That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old-fashioned. I’m only going to say what I feel.”

It didn’t stop there, though. According to Yahoo.com, Ditka is the chairman of the Extreme Football League — apparently, formerly the Lingerie Football League — which is set to begin play in April 2021. And, he was asked if he would allow anthem protests in his league.

“I think there’s a way to protest and there’s a way to don’t protest,” he said. “You don’t protest against the flag, and you don’t protest against this country who’s given you an opportunity to make a living playing a sport you never thought would happen. So, I don’t want to hear all that crap.”

Ditka probably won’t want to tune in to the NFL this season because odds are high players will continue to kneel to draw attention to social justice issues and inequality in the country.


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