NFL Legend Mike Ditka: 'If You Can’t Respect Our National Anthem, Get the Hell Out' of America

Kiichiro Sato
AP featured image
FILE – In this Oct. 27, 2009, file photo, Mike Ditka speaks at a news conference in Chicago. Back in 1986, when head coach Ditka took the Chicago Bears’ shuffling crew to New Orleans for the Super Bowl, what happened on Bourbon Street mostly stayed there and his instructions to the team would have fit in a text message: No curfew the first three days. No fooling around after that. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)


How quickly things can change — not long ago, in the media and among non-Nike athletic corps, kneeling during the National Anthem was a topic of controversy.

Now it seems most everyone’s on board, including the NFL.

Nonetheless, National Football League legend Mike Ditka is sticking to the old days, and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Mike’s not one of the cool kids — across American athletics, people are refusing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As I covered Tuesday, a recent WNBA match saw both teams abandon the situation altogether and retreat to their locker rooms while the song played.

And on Monday, a host of San Francisco Giants took a knee, including two coaches and a team manager:

As for Ditka, he’s not mincing words. Speaking to TMZ, the former Chicago Bears coach — and current owner/chairman of X League, a women’s pro football association — lowered the boom on bending.

TMZ asked:

“The whole kneeling thing in the NFL — you’ve guys saying that they’re gonna do it. I’m seeing all these baseball players now, different teams — last night watching baseball, you’ve got the Reds kneeling, the A’s, the Giants. A lot of teams are kneeling. Athletes are kneeling. In your league here — you’re the chairman of this thing — is that gonna be allowed? If the women wanna take a knee during the Anthem? What’s the policy on that for you guys?”


Mike admitted he’s not a modern kinda guy. But he’s got some definite ideas about patriotism:

“Of course, I’m old fashioned. So I’m only gonna say what I feel. I think there’s a way that you protest and there’s a way you don’t protest. You don’t protest against the flag, and you don’t protest against this country [that’s] given you the opportunity to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen. So I don’t wanna hear all the crap.”

There’s certainly a lot of protest to be heard. Gone, it seems, are the days of pure unadulterated competition and entertainment.

Back in 2017, Mr. Ditka lamented the same, as quoted by RedState’s Brandon Morse:

“Respect the game. Play the game. When you want to protest, protest when the game is over. Football has been so good to these guys. Enjoy it. Have fun with it. … I don’t think it’s the stage for protests, I’m sorry.”

So much for that. We’ve entered a world where politics appear to penetrate all things, across platforms and age groups:

Via TMZ, College Football Hall of Famer, Pro Football Hall of Famer, 1961 UPI NFL Rookie of Year, five-time Pro Bowl participant, and five-time All-Pro tight end (whew) Mike Ditka had strong advice for people kneeling during the musical tribute to our nation’s liberty:


“If you can’t respect our National Anthem, get the hell out of the country.”



See more pieces from me:

Major League Baseball Goes to Bat for Kneeling, and It Looks Like a Strike-Out

Herschel Walker Offers to Fly Everyone Who Doesn’t Want Police to Places Where There Aren’t Any

They Were Slow as Molasses: Quaker Finally Cancels Aunt Jemima

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