If it was up to him, Mike Ditka says no athletes would take a knee during the national anthem.
Ditka made the comments in an interview with TMZ, when asked what the policy on kneeling would be for his women's football X-League.
"If you can't respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country," Ditka said. "That's the way I feel. Of course, I'm old fashioned, so I'm only going to say how 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 who's given you the opportunity to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen."
In the video released by TMZ, Ditka did not offer suggestions on forms of protest he thought were acceptable. He did appear to soften his stance at the end of the interview however.
"I don't want to hear all the crap. You want to try it? Try it. If not, that's ok."
Kneeling during the anthem has been a lightning rod topic since Colin Kaepernick began doing it 2016. He has not played in the NFL since that season. After filing a collusion lawsuit against the NFL, Kaepernick and the league agreed to a settlement out of court in 2019.
More recently, MLB teams have made headlines for holding black ribbons, or kneeling during the anthem in support of Black Lives Matters protests. The NBA has also released images of courts painted with "Black Lives Matter" for their upcoming return to play.
Mike Ditka to athletes who kneel for anthem: 'Get the hell out of the country' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago