While many coaches and players are uniting to take a stand—or a knee—against President Trump’s war with the NFL and NBA, former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka decided to side with the Trump while displaying a staggering level of ignorance about Civil Rights issues—and not just current issues. A century’s worth.
“There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of,” Ditka told sportscaster Jim Gray. “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.”
He even suggested that coaches should bench players that take the knee. “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.”
Ditka’s ignorance is especially painful because of the Bear’s history. As the Chicago Tribune reports:
Setting aside what’s going on today, the discrimination and bigotry Ditka’s Bears teammates faced in the mid-1960s was memorably depicted in the much-beloved 1971 TV movie “Brian’s Song,” starring James Caan as Brian Piccolo and Billy Dee Williams as Gale Sayers, the team’s first interracial roommates.
Maybe instead of selling erectile dysfunction drugs, Ditka should erect a social conscience.