Jets great Joe Namath defends National Football League protests

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Former Bears player and coach Mike Ditka has sparked a backlash after saying he is not aware of any oppression of black people in the past 100 years. Maybe I'm not watching as carefully as other people. Host Jim Gray asked Ditka, who has always been a critic of the athletes kneeling during the national anthem, what his response would be to those who want social justice.

Ditka, known for his outspoken conservative viewpoints on and off the gridiron, in the past has taken on Colin Kaepernick, telling the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and others who "disrespects this country and the flag" to "get the hell out", and calling President Obama the "worst" president ever. You might recall the time a year ago he said that Colin Kaepernick should "get the hell out" of the country if he doesn't like it here.

"How many countries pay u millions to play a kids game??" tweeted one critic. "If you had to go to somewhere else and try to play this sport, you wouldn't have a job", he said. But I don't believe you demonstrate against the American flag. I mean, are you talking everything is based on color? I just see respect for their own individual opinions. "And we have watched that throughout our history of our country".

Ditka insisted during the interview that he wasn't "condemning anybody or criticizing anybody" but urged National Football League players to take their protests off the field.

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Ditka does not support the anthem protests that have erupted on National Football League fields around the country.

Many were quick to point out that the US has been far from oppression-free, even during Ditka's 77 years of life.

On Monday, Ditka, during a phone interview with Westwood One's Jim Gray, wasn't shy about sharing his thoughts on the hotly debated topic.

Ditka, when asked late last month about the protests by the Sun-Times, "Whoever you think is right, is right". He told a Chicago radio station previous year that "Obama's the worst president we've ever had".

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"This is America. You should be free to do what you want to do and leave it at that".

"No, I'm not because I'm getting old, Jim, and I'm to the point right now, I'm fed up with a lot of it", Ditka said.

"Football has been so good to these guys", Ditka said of NFL players on the pregame show.

You can't get much more clueless and forgetful than this. That's where you protest. "It's been so good to me". Enjoy it. Have fun with it. "I'm sorry, a lot of people disagree with that, but that's my take on it".

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