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Ditka claims 'no oppression in last 100 years'

From ESPN - October 10, 2017

Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka said during a radio interview Monday that he does not believe there has been oppression in the United States in the "last 100 years."

The former NFL tight end and head coach made his comments in an interview with Jim Gray on Westwood One's Monday Night Football pregame show, when discussing the issue of players sitting or kneeling during the national anthem as a way to protest social injustice.

The issue has been a topic of a national debate, which intensified after President Donald Trump's comments that NFL owners should "fire" players who do not stand for the anthem.

"All of a sudden, it's become a big deal now, about oppression," Ditka said. "There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I am not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody. ... If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort into yourself, I think you can accomplish anything."

Former linebacker Otis Wilson, who played for Ditka in Chicago from 1982 to '87, disagreed with his former coach's opinion in an interview Tuesday with ESPN Radio's The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap. The interview will air this weekend.

"Well I guess if he walked in a black man's shoes, he would understand," said Wilson, who is an African-American. "I would say all lives matter and the rules are not level for everybody. Let's say the average Joe on the street does not really have a platform. Colin [Kaepernick] has a platform, so he used his platform. That's his rights. Everybody has rights. So do not knock somebody for when they use it and how they use it, because if it was against the laws or against the rules they would have sat him down and told him about that.

"This is America. You should be free to do what you want to do and leave it at that. Is America a lot easier than being in another country somewhere? Yes it is. But then, on the other hand, being a black man, there's a lot of things you ca not do. Not being black, he does not understand that."

Former Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. also disagreed with Ditka, pointing to history as proof he was wrong.

Really? Civil rights act of 1964, voting act of 1965, Rosa parks 1955, #mikeditka go sit ur dumb a$$ down somewhere. I respect my elders https://t.co/liHBMqS9sF

Steve Smith Sr (@89SteveSmith) October 10, 2017

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