Mike Ditka, left, and Colin Kaepernick.
Mike Ditka, the former coach of the Chicago Bears, two-time Super Bowl champion and two-time NFL Coach of the Year, said if one of his players took a knee during the National Anthem, they would never "play for me ever again." He also said young players, such as San Franciso 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernack, need to show respect for the game that has given them so much and stop "acting like a bunch of fools out there."
"Iron" Mike Ditka made his remarks during a Feb. 2 interview on the Bernie & Sid show (77WABC Radio). Below is an excerpt of the exchange:
Hosts: “What do you think of football moving forward – everybody’s going to watch the game on Sunday, it is the Super Bowl – but, let’s face it Mike, it has not been a good year for [NFL Commissioner] Roger Goodell and it really starts with Colin Kaepernick. You just described these people all over Trump as ‘a—holes.’ I think Colin Kaepernick is an a—hole, to be honest with you. He really turned me off and turned off a lot of America. How do you think Goodell handled this season and do you think the NFL may have taken a real hit?”
Ditka: “Well, here’s the thing. When we live in a society that pays attention to athletes, say, as greatly as they do to Kaepernick, then we’re foolish. I mean, athletes’ opinions are no different than anybody else’s, they’re no more significant than anybody else’s. They’re no more important than anybody else’s.
"Kaepernick would be an unknown, a complete unknown – nobody would know who he was – without the game of football, without the sport he’s playing. And not to respect that, you’ve got be a pretty unintelligent person, I would think.
"Because I don’t care what your preferences are, you can have anything you want to. But what he has was given to him by the game of football. I think it’s important to me that some of these young people playing the game start giving something back to the game. And respect the game the way it should be respected instead of acting like a bunch of fools out there."
Hosts: “No doubt about it. Hypothetically, Coach Ditka’s on the sidelines and one of his players takes a knee during the National Anthem, what happens to the player in that case?
Ditka: “He doesn’t play for me ever again.”
Hosts: “That’s it. You got to love that.”
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick takes a knee during the singing of the National Anthem. (AP)