After President Trump referred to any NFL player who kneels during the national anthem as a “son of a b*tch” — a statement that resulted in hundreds of players taking a knee in protest — there’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not such behavior is acceptable. While many have said that the players should absolutely be allowed to protest, former NFL tight end and head coach Mike Ditka begs to differ.
On Tuesday morning, Ditka refused to accept that the players are protesting police brutality against black Americans and claimed that, for the last 100 years, “there has been no oppression” in the United States.
Ditka also said that the NFL players who are protesting should show “respect for the game” and “protest when the game’s over.”
‘I don’t see a lot of respect for the game, I just see respect for their own individual opinions… Respect the game, play the game, when you want to protest, protest when the game’s over, protest whatever other way you want to.’
Ditka’s remarks have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, including Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath. Namath appeared on Fox & Friends on Tuesday and said, in response to Ditka:
‘Look up the meaning of oppression. Look up the definition of oppression, and you understand that it’s obviously taken place.’
Namath also addressed the real reason that players are choosing to kneel:
‘Going back to what Colin Kaepernick initially did, it was to point out some injustice that’s being done to the black race. Or to people that obviously when you look — and I say obviously, some of these dash cams and shootings that were done to unarmed people. He was reaching out to try to get it more investigated. So that’s where this oppression thing comes in.
‘It’s a national dialogue now more on the flag, patriotism, but the oppression, the unjust treatment of others has fallen in the background here. We haven’t heard that part.’
He went on to say, however, that he thinks team owners have the right to tell players not to protest while at work.
‘We have a right. This is America, liberty, a lot of freedoms. Ownership has ownership. If somebody starts walking through here carrying a sign, what are the powers that be at Fox going to say to you? “Excuse me. Go do that somewhere else. Don’t do it in the workplace.”‘
Namath also hesitated when responding to a question about whether or not he would participate in a protest if he was currently playing:
‘I’m not there, but I’ve never walked in a black man’s shoes either.’
Watch Namath’s comments in the video below, available via YouTube.
Featured image is a screenshot from the video.