NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka did not mince any words when giving his opinion on professional athletes kneeling for the National Anthem.
When asked about his opinion on then kneeling in an interview with TMZ Sports, Ditka stated that “If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country.”
Ditka did paraphrase his statement by saying that perhaps he is “old fashioned” but he was still very clear with how he felt.
Mike Ditka says anthem kneeling protests are unpatriotic ... and the NFL legend tells TMZ Sports if he had it his way, he wouldn't allow the demonstrations in his new women's football league.
The Hall of Famer is slated to be the chairman of the X League -- a women's tackle football org. that was previously known as the Legends Football League -- and when we asked him if he'd be OK with protests during the national anthem, he straight-up said no.
"If you can't respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country," Ditka said. "That's the way I feel. Of course, I'm old fashioned, so I'm only going to say what I feel."
Colin Kaepernick and others have said the kneeling protests have nothing to do with military or the flag ... they've continuously claimed the demonstrations are all about raising awareness for social justice and police brutality in America.
But, Ditka says he's sticking to his guns -- claiming he views kneeling as a slap in the face to the red, white and blue.
"You don't protest against the flag and you don't protest against this country who's given you the opportunities to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen," Ditka says. "So, I don't want to hear all the crap."
Mike is definitely not alone in his sentiment.
While it suddenly seems that the vast majority of all professional sports are catering to the protesting, there is also evidence that most fans are not happy about it.
That hasn't stopped athletes from showing their disrespect over the last several weeks as professional sports slowly come back after health concerns.
Even "America's (former) favorite pastime" isn't immune.
I'd say the WNBA may lose fans over this, but I'm not sure they have any to begin with.
The NBA is gearing up to follow in the footsteps of the NFL.
This is all certainly disheartening for fans of professional sports, but the sports themselves do have quite a bit to lose if fans begin to tune out.
There is plenty reason to believe that many fans have already made up their minds to do so.
The National Anthem has almost completely been highjacked by professional athletes and protestors now and it's very sad to see.
Mike Ditka will probably be criticized and called a racist for his opinion, just like the rest of us.
We all need to stand strong though, and never give into the fear or to cancel culture.