With the recent NFL protests continuing to produce ripples through American culture, more and more people are adding their voice to the conversation. Sometimes these opinions are welcome and even thought-provoking – other times, they really aren’t. Usually, they’re somewhere in between.
Legendary Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka showed no restraint in voicing his opinion on the recent anthem protests during his latest interview.
Jim Gray brought the coach on as a guest commentator during the Bears-Vikings game. Was he asked on for his sizzling take on the current social issues surrounding the NFL? It’s easier to imagine that Ditka’s guest spot on the mic was due instead to his Super Bowl ring. In any case, rather than his insight on the sport, what stuck out during Ditka’s appearance was his outspokenness regarding the NFL’s anthem protest debacle.
Ditka was quick to speak his mind, for better or worse.
“There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of,” he said. “Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody — race, religion, creed, color, nationality. If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort in, you can accomplish anything.”
Perhaps to his credit, Ditka doesn’t fail to acknowledge the players’ right to protest. He just doesn’t think that the pre-game national anthem is the time or stage for it, and he also doesn’t happen to believe in the ideas backing the protest.
“Yes, I don’t care who you are, how much money you make,” Ditka said. “If you don’t respect our country, then you shouldn’t be in this country playing football. Go to another country and play football. If you had to go somewhere else and try to play the sport, you wouldn’t have a job. … If you don’t respect this flag and this country, then you don’t know what this is all about. I would say, adios.”
Suffice it to say that Ditka doesn’t agree with some of the lenient perspectives from the NFL and their coaches regarding the protests.
As is the case with most social matters these days, the country seems split on the issue.
Those on Ditka’s side don’t appreciate politics getting in the way of enjoying a football game. The most reasonable among them have an idea of the issues that inspired the protest in the first place, and they hold that in mind despite their disagreement.
The other side feels strongly about the issues backing the protest, and some might think that such a sizeable stage as the NFL is the perfect venue for spreading the word.
It does seem as though the bigger half of the country – or at least its football fans – err on the former side, judging by the NFL’s recent dip in ratings in response to the protests. That’s fair enough – when people want to watch football, that’s pretty much all they want, and they prefer watching it without the side order of politics.