With the continued coverage of whether or not NFL players should be forced to stand during the national anthem, Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka decided to throw in his two cents last night in an interview on Westwood One’s Monday Night Football pregame show. Ditka said that people of color are no longer oppressed in the United States, and so the topic of oppression hasn’t been relevant in over 100 years. Mike Ditka says he’s just not buying players kneeling during the national anthem as a way to protest social injustice
Mike Ditka believes that any discussion about people being oppressed is just an excuse because there hasn’t been any oppression in a century in America, so people need to follow the president’s recommendation.
“All of a sudden, it’s become a big deal now, about oppression. 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.”
Whether Mike Ditka meant to be provocative or not, many players reacted negatively, saying that it’s easy for Mike Ditka to make those comments as a white man from Western Pennsylvania.
Former linebacker Otis Wilson, who played for Mike Ditka from 1982 to 1987, strongly disagrees with his former coach, and as a black man, he sees the topic differently.
“Well, I guess if he walked in a black man’s shoes, he would understand. I would say all lives matter, and the rules are not level for everybody. Let’s say the average Joe on the street doesn’t really have a platform. Colin [Kaepernick]has a platform, so he used his platform. That’s his rights. Everybody has rights. So don’t knock somebody for when they use it and how they use it because if it was against the laws or against the rules they would have sat him down and told him about that.”
Wilson explains that Mike Ditka doesn’t understand that while it is true that in the United States it is easier to be a person of color, there are still ways in which the playing field is not level.
“You should be free to do what you want to do and leave it at that. Is America a lot easier than being in another country somewhere? Yes, it is. But then, on the other hand, being a black man, there’s a lot of things you can’t do. Not being black, he [Ditka] doesn’t understand that.”
Former Carolina Panther Steve Smith is incredulous about the things Mike Ditka said, including that there has been no oppression in the U.S. in 100 years. Smith is not doubting that Ditka was a great coach, but he suggests that Ditka is out of his depth talking about civil rights. Smith tweeted his thoughts this morning.
“Really? Civil Rights Act of 1964, voting act of 1965, Rosa Parks 1955. To say this gives us a peek into you’re [sic] heart. Jim crow laws, Brown v. Board of education Great coach..clueless person.”
Steve Smith went on to call Mike Ditka a “dumba**” and say that despite what Ditka says, as a country, we can do better.
“To act like this country is perfect and say history hasn’t happened is reckless and untrue. We can do better.”
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Mike Ditka admits that he is a big supporter of Donald Trump, and agrees with Trump’s thoughts on taking a knee while the national anthem is being played. The Chicago Sun-Times claims that during the pregame interview, Ditka was “channeling his best Archie Bunker.” Ditka said that he doesn’t see oppression the way others do.
“I don’t see all the social injustice that some of these people see.”
This morning, Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath was asked if he agrees with Mike Ditka. Like Ditka, Namath is also from Western Pennsylvania and comes from a similar background, but Namath sees things differently than Ditka.
“Well, look up the meaning of oppression. Look up the definition of oppression and you will understand that it obviously has taken place.”
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart wanted to clarify that the NFL doesn’t agree with the point of view Mike Ditka has taken on oppression and civil rights.
“Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. The league would not express that opinion, by any stretch of the imagination.”
Do you agree with Mike Ditka that there hasn’t been oppression in the United States in over 100 years?
[Featured Image by Christian Peterson/Getty Images]