Apparently, there are people who still believe that a person exercising the constitutional rights bestowed on them by the First Amendment is unpatriotic. Seasoned NFL coach, Mike Ditka, made it clear that he's one of those people when he expressed his disdain for National Anthem protests in the NFL.
During a conversation with TMZ, Ditka explained that he's "old fashioned" and thinks that people who can't respect the National Anthem need to "get the hell out of the country."
"That's the way I feel," he said. "Of course, I'm old fashioned, so I'm only going to say what I feel."
Ditka's stance is actually a microcosm of the issues that led to Colin Kaepernick's protest. Since Kaepernick first started kneeling during the National Anthem in 2016, he's consistently explained that he's protesting police brutality in America, the country's lack of equity, and systematic racism. But because of Americans' perpetual trivialization of minorities, most of the public ran with a narrative that Kaep was protesting the flag. This lack of empathy and understanding along with the notion of being "old fashioned" is why Kaep's protest was sparked by the 2015 death of Tamir Rice but still holds true after George Floyd's murder in 2020.
Once this was understood, several players like Drew Brees have walked back on their stance against kneeling during the National Anthem, but Mike Ditka isn't interested in listening to what he deems as "crap."
"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 said. "So, I don't want to hear all the crap."
Ditka has recently been named the chairman of the X League, which is an all-women pro tackle football league that used to be called Legends Football League. Although he isn't in charge of making National Anthem policies, he let it be known that he would force the players to participate in the National Anthem if he could.