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Mike Ditka shreds anthem protesters: 'If you can't respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country'

No mistaking his message

Photo by Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images

Famed NFL coach Mike Ditka says if people can't respect the national anthem, they should leave America.

What are the details?

In a now-viral interview with TMZ Sports, the beloved former Chicago Bears coach aired his grievances about people who don't treat the country with utmost respect.

"If you can't respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country," he sniped. "That's the way I feel. Of course, I'm old-fashioned. So, I'm only going to say what I feel. I think there's a way you protest, and there's a way you don't protest."

Ditka, 80, also hit out at athletes who kneel during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"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 added. "So I don't want to hear all the crap."

This isn't the first time he's spoken out against national anthem protests: In 2016, he blasted former NFL player-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick for ushering in the trend.

At the time, Ditka said, "I have no respect for Colin Kaepernick — he probably has no respect for me, that's his choice. My choice is, I like this country, I respect our flag, and I don't see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on."

Mike Ditka Against Anthem Kneeling In New Football League, Leave the Country! | TMZ Sports www.youtube.com

Ditka, who is set to take over as owner and chairman of the X League — a woman's tackle football organization — also said that if he has his way, no women will demonstrate during the X League games.

He added, however, that he doesn't have final say in whether women will be permitted to kneel according to the league's national anthem policy.

The outlet reports that the new league will feature eight teams in areas such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and is set to kick off in April 2021.

"These women are pretty and good-looking and want to knock the crap out of each other," he joked. "We'll see how it works!"

Of the league, Ditka also said, "Now from an ownership and executive perspective, I want to provide women a high-profile platform to compete against the greatest female athletes in the world while creating a destination league for millions of girls to aspire to play in."

"It's time to give women, and girls, the same opportunity to play the game that the men play," he added.

X LEAGUE | WELCOME AMERICAN ICON AND HALL OF FAMER MIKE DITKA www.youtube.com

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