- The Washington Times - Monday, July 27, 2020

NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka said if he had it his way, football players would be banned from kneeling during the national anthem.

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

“I think there’s a way you protest and there’s a way you don’t protest,” Mr. Ditka continued. “You don’t protest against the flag and you don’t protest against this country, who has given you the opportunities to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen.

“So, I don’t want to hear all their crap,” he added.

The Hall of Famer is slated to be the chairman of the Extreme Football League, a women’s tackle football league set to launch with eight teams in April 2021.

“If it was up to me, I’d say no,” Mr. Ditka responded when asked whether the league’s players would be permitted to kneel during the national anthem.

His comments are not the first denouncing the national anthem protests, which were sparked in 2016 by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“I have no respect for Colin Kaepernick,” Mr. Ditka said in September 2016.

“You can’t stop everybody. There’s always going to be some malcontents,” he said one year later. “So let them be malcontents, let them do their thing. They’ll move on. Nobody will think about it, nobody will remember who they were.”

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