NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka says athletes who kneel should ‘get the hell out of the country’

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FILE – In this Oct. 27, 2009 file photo, former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka speaks at a news conference in Chicago. ESPN producer Seth Markman says Ditka suffered a minor stroke Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

(CNN) – Mike Ditka is once again not holding back his feelings when it comes to athletes who kneel during the national anthem.

The NFL Hall of Fame coach says kneeling athletes should “get the hell out of the country.”

Ditka said he admits he’ s “old-fashioned” but he said, “You don’t protest against the flag or against this country.”

Ditka is the chairman of the X League, which is a women’s tackle football league.

The X League, which is set to debut next year, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ditka has spoken out against kneeling before.

He apologized in 2017 after he made controversial comments on the matter.

Ditka had said, “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 as a protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

The act has returned to the spotlight again as professional sports resume play and social unrest continues across the country following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

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