NFL legend Mike Ditka against kneeling during national anthem: 'Get the hell out of the country'
CINCINNATI — NFL legend Mike Ditka made it clear that he disagrees with any athlete that kneels for the national anthem.
The Hall of Famer is the chairman of the Extreme Football League — a women's tackle football organization.
Ditka, 80, said he would oppose any athletes in the X League that decided to kneel during the national anthem.
“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country,” Ditka said in a video interview with TMZ Sports. “That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old-fashioned. I’m only going to say what I feel.”
He made it clear that these are his personal beliefs and that he doesn't have the power to change the league policy.
"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."
The X League was originally founded as the Lingerie Football League, before it became the Legends Football League in 2009. They have teams in Los Angeles, Austin, Denver, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas City and Omaha.
Ditka was a six-time All-Pro tight end. As a head coach, he helped the Bears become arguably the greatest defense in all-time en route to a Super Bowl VI victory.
In 1988, he became the first tight end induced into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Ditka also infamously offered the Bengals his entire draft class in 1999 and multiple picks the following year in an attempt to trade up for running back Ricky Williams. The Bengals didn't take the deal and selected quarterback Akili Smith with the No. 3 pick, who ended up being one of the biggest draft busts in team history.
Ditka ultimately landed Williams in a trade that send eight draft selections, including two first-round picks to Washington for the No. 5 pick in the 1999 NFL Draft.