A day after making headlines for his controversial comments on oppression, Mike Ditka issued a statement and apology.
The statement reads:
I want to clarify statements that I made in an interview with Jim Gray last night. The characterization of the statement that I made does not reflect the context of the question that I was answering and certainly does not reflect my views throughout my lifetime. I have absolutely seen oppression in society in the last 100 years and I am completely intolerant of any discrimination. The interview was about the NFL and the related issues. That’s where my head was at. I was quoted in the interview stating, “You have to be color blind.” I stated that you should look at a person for what they are and not the color of their skin. I’m sorry if anyone was offended.
Ditka joined Gray for an interview on the Westwood One Monday Night Football pregame show before the Bears game.
He weighed in on the kneeling debate saying there’s been no racial oppression in the last 100 years.
“There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people,” Ditka said during the interview.
He went on by saying, “I think the opportunity is there for everybody. Race, religion, creed, color, nationality. If you want to work, if you want to try, you want to put effort — I think you can accomplish anything.”
Ditka also said he would bench players who kneeled if he was still coaching.
“I don’t care who you are, how much money you make — if you don’t respect our country, then you shouldn’t be in this country playing football. Go to another country and play football,” Ditka said.
“If you can’t respect the flag and the country, then you don’t respect what this is all about. So I would say, ‘adios,'” he said.
The former coach talked about the topic for most of the six-minute interview.