Six-time All Pro Ditka has been an outspoken opponent of teams kneeling before games in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, insisting that he does not want the “pretty” and “good looking” women in the new X League that he is in line to become chairman of to engage in protests.
His views have been vehemently rejected by players including former Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints wide receiver Dez Bryant, who called Ditka’s outburst “feeling entitled at its finest”.
“I don’t want to hear all the crap,” former tight end and Chicago Bears head coach Ditka told TMZ.
“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.”
He later blasted to Newsmax: “If you can’t respect this country, get the hell out of it. It’s not a complicated thing.
“You play the game, you enjoy the game. If you don’t like the game, get out of it.”
Ditka’s potential election as leader of the new women’s league, which will feature eight teams in cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle, has evidently not won new backers courtesy of his unflinching views on pre-game gestures.
“Mike Ditka goes on another anti-black rant and tells black NFL players to ‘get the hell out’ of the country after protests,” said Tariq Nasheed, who describes himself as “the world’s number one race baiter” to his Twitter following of more than 254,000.
“When these anti-black racists get older, they stop hiding their racist contempt.”
Activist and writer Charlotte Clymer questioned Ditka’s decision to play in the NFL rather than serve in Vietnam while he was a player, calling him a “coward”.
“His ‘patriotism’ is all about performative bluster over the flag, unless it means actually doing something that requires sacrifice,” she added.
Former Bears defensive tackle Nate Collins also pleaded for “someone to tell Mike Ditka to shut his old ass up,” while a fan asked: “Why are all the great fans also crazy?”
Others were more supportive. “Coach is right,” argued a Bears supporter. “Many men and woman have died wearing that flag on them.
“Protest all you want – just make sure to stand for our national anthem. It’s that simple.”
Ditka expects his new league, which is a successor to the Lingerie Football League that existed between 2009 and 2012, to begin in April.
“These women are pretty and good looking and want to knock the crap out of each other,” he explained. “We’ll see how it works.”