Mike Ditka is attempting to walk back controversial comments about anthem protests.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Ditka made headlines for the wrong reason this week when he spoke out against national anthem protests, and the legendary NFL coach and player tried to clarify his stance in a statement released late Tuesday night.
Ditka, who told Jim Gray of Westwood One Sports that “there has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of,” insists his comments were misinterpreted.
“The characterization of the statement that I made does not reflect the context of the question that I was answering and certainly does not reflect my views throughout my lifetime,” Ditka’s statement read, via ESPN.com. “I have absolutely seen oppression in society in the last 100 years and I am completely intolerant of any discrimination. The interview was about the NFL and the related issues. That’s where my head was at. I was quoted in the interview stating, ‘You have to be colorblind.’ I stated that you should look at a person for what they are and not the color of their skin. I’m sorry if anyone was offended.”
Ditka seemed to be trying to deflect the attention onto other comments he made about social issues. He didn’t really clarify what he meant when he said there has been oppression in the last century, and you can understand why when you see the original remarks.
“All of a sudden, it’s become a big deal now, about oppression,” Ditka told Gray on Monday. “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody. … If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort into yourself, I think you can accomplish anything.”
In addition to his thoughts on oppression, Ditka also urged players who “don’t respect our country” to “go to another country and play football.”
We saw one Hall of Fame quarterback openly disagree with Ditka, and countless other people feel the same. Ditka had no choice but to release a statement, though it didn’t accomplish much.