"G$3 oing back to what Colin Kaepernick initially did, it was to point out some injustice that's being done to the black race, or to people that obviously when you look - and I say obviously, some of these dash cams and shootings that were done to unarmed people. That has never had anything to do with anything", he said.
Ditka, who won championships with the Chicago Bears as a tight end and later as a head coach, reiterated that while he understands it's a person's right to protest, he said "if you don't respect our country, then you shouldn't be in this country playing football".
Before one even considers the fact that Jim Crow laws weren't abolished until 1964, Ditka was apparently in such a sheltered position that he was completely unaware of how racism affected his own teammates. But I think you're a professional athlete. I don't see a lot of respect for the game. I think you have to be colorblind in this country. "Some are good. Some are bad".
"When I look at the whole thing, I'm not condemning anybody, or criticizing anybody".
On Oct. 1, 52 players sat or knelt and one stayed in the locker room for the pre-game tradition, and several teams locked arms during the national anthem in demonstrations of "unity". "... Respect the game, play the game, when you want to protest, protest when the game's over, protest whatever other way you want to". Protest whatever other way you want to. I'm sorry if anyone was offended.
He said players have a right to free speech, but not necessarily at their place of work and not when it's time to show respect to the country.
"I think it's a problem".
Many people believe NFL players should respect the United States flag and stand for the national anthem.
"How many countries pay u millions to play a kids game??" tweeted one critic. If you had to go somewhere else and try to play the sport, you wouldn't have a job. So that would be my take. My choice is that I like this country, I respect our flag, and I don't see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on.
Some current National Football League players fired back at Ditka's comments, including Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett.