Mike Ditka clarifies ‘no oppression in 100 years’ remark

Mike Ditka has clarified a comment he made Monday when he said he wasn’t aware of any racial oppression in the U.S. over the last century.

“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,” Ditka said in a statement Tuesday, per WGN-TV. “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.”

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How NFL players reacted during the national anthem in Week 5
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How NFL players reacted during the national anthem in Week 5
Oct 9, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo (left) and linebacker Anthony Barr (center) sing the national anthem prior to a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson (12) sits during the national anthem before the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; The New York Jets lock arms for the national anthem before the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 08: Rodney McLeod #23, Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles raise their fists in protest during the playing of the National Anthem as teammate Chris Long #56 shows support before a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field on October 8, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Arizona Cardinals 34-7. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 08: Xavier Cooper #96 of the San Francisco 49ers and other members of the team kneel during the National Anthem before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 08: Members of the Jacksonville Jaguars stand for the National Anthem before the start of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 08: The Los Angeles Rams are seen during the national anthem before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 8, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 08: Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, center, stands with arms locked with his team during the playing of the national anthem prior to the start of the game between the Carolina Panthers and the Detroit Lions on October 8, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Carolina defeated Detroit 27-24. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 09: The Minnesota Vikings lock arms during the national anthem prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 9, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 08: Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins (27), Eagles S Rodney McLeod (23), and Eagles DE Chris Long (56) stand together during the National Anthem before the game between the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles on October 08, 2017 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters (22) sits during the National Anthem before the football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans on October 8, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Oct 8, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts players and personnel stand during the playing of the National Anthem before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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In an interview with Westwood One’s Jim Gray before the Bears-Viking game on “Monday Night Football,” Ditka went off on players protesting the national anthem, taking aim at the rationale behind the kneeling and fist-raising.

“All of a sudden, it has become a big deal now — about oppression. There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of,” Ditka said. “Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody — race, religion, creed, color, nationality. If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort in, I think you can accomplish anything. And we have watched that throughout our history of our country.”

Last year, the famed former Bears coach called on anybody who “disrespects this country and the flag” to “get the hell out,” a sentiment he reiterated on Monday. When asked about Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ recent threat to bench players to take a knee, Ditka said he would enforce a similar policy.

“Yes, 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,” he said. “Go to another country and play football. ... If you can't respect this flag and this country, then you don’t know what this is all about. I would say, adios.”

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