Mike Ditka Backtracks on Comments After Being Called Out: ‘I Have Absolutely Seen Oppression’
A few days ago, Hall of Fame coach Mike Ditka put his entire foot in his mouth when he stated he hasn’t seen any social injustices or oppression of Black people within the last 100 years.
“I don’t know what social injustices [there] have been. Muhammad Ali rose to the top, Jesse Owens is one of the classiest individuals that ever lived. Are you talking that everything is based on color? I don’t see it that way. I think you have to be color blind in this country. You have to look at a person for what he is and what he stands for and how he produces, not by the color of his skin. That has never had anything to do with anything.
“But, 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. 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.”
After being blasted on social media, including by former New York Jets QB Joe Namath, Ditka attempted to clarify his original comments by releasing a statement that has him backtracking like a cornerback in the NFL.
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 colorblind.’ 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 has a long history of making off the wall comments, so this is neither surprising nor will it be the last time he says something controversial.