You can call him “Da Coach” or “Iron Mike.” Just don’t call retired player/coach Mike Ditka unpatriotic.
Ditka spoke with TMZSports on Monday about whether or not it’s okay for NFL players to protest the National Anthem on the anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001. Ditka called the protesters, whether they protest on 9/11 or any other day, “malcontents” for choosing to protest before an NFL game.
Here’s part of what Ditka told TMZ:
Let them be malcontents, let them do their thing, and they’ll move on. Nobody will think about it. Nobody will remember who they were. The fact that they didn’t stand for the National Anthem, that’s their own — they have a right to do that. They have a right to do anything they want to do. I just disagree with it.
While Ditka did recognize that people have a right to protest, he said that “there’s a time and place for it,” and that time and place isn't at a football game.
“I’d like to see them put on hold every day,” Ditka said. “I mean, there’s a time and place for everything. Before a football game is not the time and place for it. Period.”
The NFL Hall of Famer was asked to send a message to those thinking about protesting the National Anthem ahead of Monday night’s games.
Ditka simply said, “God bless, America.”
For video of Ditka’s comments, watch below: