(WGN) – Mike Ditka has a message for professional athletes who protest during the Star-Spangled Banner.
“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country,” he said.
The former Bears coach made those comments to TMZ Sports when asked if he, as the new chairman and owner of the women’s football X League, would allow players to take a knee.
“If it was up to me, no,” explained Ditka. “That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old-fashioned. I’m only going to say what I feel. I think there’s a way you protest and I think there’s a way you don’t protest. You don’t protest against the flag, and you don’t protest against this country, whose given you the opportunity to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen. I don’t want to hear all the crap. You want to try it, try it. You don’t, it’s okay.
Silent protests have been widespread as sports started to come back this summer.
Several members of the White Sox and Chicago Red Stars opted to kneel before games. The Cubs wore Black Lives Matter shirts on Opening Day. The Seattle Storm and New York Liberty players walked back to the locker room during the anthem at the WNBA Tip-off. And the NBA painted “Black Lives Matter” on all their bubble courts.
It remains to be seen what the eight teams in the new Extreme Football League decide to do in April, when games are scheduled to start. Other than voicing his dissent, Ditka has not clearly stated if any disciplinary action would be taken if players protest the anthem.