Even though Colin Kaepernick is no longer playing in the NFL, his protests continue on through his supporters.
While many on the Left supported Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem, fans, coaches, and fellow players did not. According to CNS News, when former Coach Mike Ditka was asked how he’d react if one of his players had taken a knee during the national anthem he responded: “He doesn’t play for me ever again.”
Ditka has a strong history in the NFL as one of the best coaches, having taken the Chicago Bears to two Super Bowl wins. He also received two NFL Coach of the Year awards.
In February he was interviewed on The Bernie & Sid Show and asked his opinion on a number of political issues that worked their way into the game last year. Not surprisingly, the interviewer wanted his opinion on Kaepernick’s behavior during the last season.
When the interviewer asked what Ditka thought about how the Kaepernick protests were handled by the NFL, Ditka responded by saying the opinions of athletes shouldn’t be greater than anyone else’s. “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.”
He went on to criticize Kaepernick for not being respectful of the great opportunity he was given through the NFL. “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.”
This belief is echoed by a former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hines Ward, who after Kaepernick refused to stand said this on his Instagram, according to Reuters, “If you want to make a point or take a stand, go straight after the root of that cause. Don’t disrespect the whole country or the organization that’s paying you millions of dollars.”
Another player, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints Drew Brees, tweeted that while he agreed with Kaepernick’s message, he felt the protest against the anthem was disrespectful. “I agree with his protest, I DON’T agree w his METHOD.”
Even though Kaepernick is gone, having been passed over in the free agent draft by every team in the NFL, some of his supporters have kept the protests alive, according to USA Today. Michael Bennett, defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, and Marshawn Lynch, a running back for the Oakland Raiders, have both refused to stand for the anthem.
Former Coach Mike Ditka said if one of his players didn’t honor the National Anthem, he wouldn’t play for him. Do you think professional players should be required to stand for the National Anthem?
Though Lynch has refused to publicly state why he sat out, he claims that he’s been protesting the national anthem for his entire career and no one really took notice until now. While he was a supporter of Kaepernick last season, it remains unclear why he’s protesting.
Bennett says he’s continuing the protest because the recent violence in Charlottesville is a reminder of the racial inequality in America. “I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve. And I want to be able to use this platform to continuously push the message of that.”
While everyone is free to voice their opinions, it is unfortunate that these players are showing disrespect to the country that has provided so much opportunity for them. It’s one thing to protest those individuals who spread injustice and racism, it’s another to protest the nation as a whole for the actions of a few.