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Mike Ditka called out for ripping players who kneel during anthem

Mike Ditka once again this week condemned NFL players who opt to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality, social injustice and systemic racism, and the Hall of Famer is receiving some push back over his harsh rhetoric.

The NFL’s evolving stance on peaceful pregame protests such as kneeling during the anthem — or alternatively remaining in the locker rooms during its playing — was on full display across the league in Week 1.

Among those who have taken issue with Ditka are Baltimore Ravens head coach Jim Harbaugh, who fired back at not only the NFL legend but also anyone opposed to to players kneeling during the anthem.

“I don’t know how you can criticize someone for being passionate and for believing in something important to them,” Harbaugh said. “They want America to be great, and to realize the ideals we were founded on.”

Current free-agent wide receiver Dez Bryant, no stranger to weighing in on such issues, took to Twitter to take a much more aggressive stance against the position Ditka represents.

Earlier this week, Ditka, 80, doubled down on his previously stated and controversial stance that any player who believes it’s appropriate to kneel during the anthem should get out of football.

“You don’t like the game, get out of it,” Ditka said on “National Report” Monday, per Newsmax. “It’s not for protesting one way or the other. What color you are, what you think, this or that. You play football. That’s it. You’re privileged. You got a gift from God that you can play the game because you got a body you can do it with. I don’t really understand what you’re protesting. I played the game. I coached the game for a long time. It makes no sense to me…”

As he has done on previous occasions, Ditka went so far as to argue that any player who chooses to kneel during the anthem should simply leave the United States.

“I would tell those players go to another country and play football there. You don’t have to come out. You don’t have to come out if you go to another country,” Ditka continued. “You can’t! Because the game’s only played in this country. And if you can’t respect this country, get the hell out of it.”

Ditka obviously represents a contingent NFL fans who vehemently oppose players kneeling during the anthem, some of whom have threatened to no longer follow the league if players continue to be allowed to engage in such pregame protests.

That said, the NFL has committed itself to being more supportive of player activism during this coming season after failing to so in the past. Odds are such acts will play a significant role during the 2020 NFL season.