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Hall of Fame coach Mike Ditka criticizes NFL teams protesting national anthem

“If you can’t respect this country, get the hell out of it,” Mike Ditka said of the protests.

Mike Ditza Jordan Strauss / Invision for NFL / AP Images

Mike Ditka, former football player and Hall of Fame coach, is not in favor of the NFL teams that have chosen to protest during the national anthem.

The former athlete talked to Newsmax TV on Monday (Sept. 14) about the players’ rebellion and his belief that football is a sport to play rather than an opportunity to protest.

“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,” he continued. “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 encouraged the players to move to another country where sitting out of the national anthem would not be considered a form of disrespect.

“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.”

Dez Bryant, who is currently a free agent, responded to Ditka’s anti-protest rant tweeting, “Somebody need to go have a sit down with Mike Ditka..no arguing but explain to him what’s going on...feeling entitled at its finest.”

Ditka has previously made obvious his objection of the NFL demonstrations. When Colin Kaepernick made headlines for kneeling during the national anthem, he also suggested that the former San Francisco 49er “get the hell out” of the country. He said the same thing in July to players protesting the anthems following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Since before the NFL season made its return, the football league responded to Jacob Blake’s horrific shooting by announcing some ways they planned to be active in the fight against police brutality and racial inequality. Now that the season is underway, select teams are continuing on the fight by remaining in their locker rooms or kneeling during the national anthem.

Look below for Ditka’s comments and Bryant’s ensuing response.

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