Former Bears coach Mike Ditka: 'No oppression in last 100 years'

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Former NFL player and coach Mike Ditka arrives at the 5th annual NFL Honors at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in San Francisco.

CHICAGO -- Former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka faced criticism Tuesday after comments he made during a pregame interview Monday night.

While talking on a radio show about player protests during the national anthem because of racial injustice, Ditka said, "There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of."

Ditka thinks the players have a right to protest, but doesn't think the games are the place to do that.

Fast Facts about Mike Ditka

Here's a look at the life of Hall of Fame football player and coach Mike Ditka.

Personal: Birth date: October 18, 1939

Birth place: Carnegie, Pennsylvania

Birth name: Michael Keller Dyczko Jr.

Father: Michael Ditka Sr., steel mill worker and railroad union organizer

Mother: Charlotte (Keller) Ditka

Marriages: Diana (Trantham) Ditka (July 8, 1977-present); Margery Dougherty (January 28, 1961-September 21, 1973, divorced)

Children: with Margery Dougherty: Michael III, Mark, Megan and Matthew

Education: Attended the University of Pittsburgh, 1958-1960

Other Facts: Surname was changed from Dyczko to Ditka when he was young.

Nicknamed "Iron Mike," "Da Coach" and "The Hammer."

Five-time Pro Bowl player (1961-1965 seasons).

NFL tight end with the Chicago Bears (1961-1966 seasons), the Philadelphia Eagles (1967-1968 seasons) and the Dallas Cowboys (1969-1972 seasons).

NFL head coach of the Chicago Bears (1982-1992 seasons) and the New Orleans Saints (1997-1999 seasons).

One of only two coaches to win the Super Bowl as a player (1971 season), assistant coach (1977 season) and head coach (1985 season). Tom Flores is the other.

Was part-owner of the Arena Football team, the Chicago Rush.

Owner and operator of the restaurant chain Ditka's.

President of the nonprofit Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, which assists retired NFL players medically and financially.


1961 - Selected first round, fifth overall by the Chicago Bears in the NFL Draft; and also selected first round, eighth overall by the Houston Oilers in the AFL Draft. (At the time, the AFL and NFL had separate drafts). Ditka signs with the Bears for $12,000 plus a $6,000 bonus.

December 1961 - Named the NFL Rookie of the Year.

April 26, 1967 - Traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.

January 27, 1969 - Traded to the Dallas Cowboys.

January 16, 1972 - Catches a 7-yard touchdown pass in the Dallas Cowboys' victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI, 24-3.

1973 - Retires as a player and becomes an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys.

January 15, 1978 - Assistant coach when the Dallas Cowboys defeat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII, 27-10.

October 14, 1985 - Arrested near Chicago's O'Hare Airport. He is later convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, fined $300 and ordered to attend alcohol abuse classes.

January 26, 1986 - Coaches the Chicago Bears to a 46-10 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

1986 - Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

July 30, 1988 - First tight end inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

November 1988 - Suffers a minor heart attack.

1989 - Founds the Mike Ditka Foundation, which raises money for pediatric AIDS research and Misericordia, a Chicago-based organization supporting individuals with developmental disabilities.

1982-January 5, 1993 - Head coach of the Chicago Bears, until he is fired following a 5-11 season.

1993 - Becomes an NFL studio analyst with NBC.

1997-2000 - Head coach of the New Orleans Saints until he is fired in January 2000.

2000 - Becomes an NFL studio analyst with CBS.

2004-present - Football analyst with ESPN.

July 2004 - After being approached by a group of Illinois Republicans, announces that he has decided not to run for the open US Senate seat in Illinois.

2011 - Invests in the Elite Football League of India, originally comprised of eight teams from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka playing American-style football.

November 16, 2012 - Suffers a minor stroke.

May 24, 2013 - The Bears announce the upcoming retirement of Ditka's number 89, and that it will be the last number they retire. The ceremony takes place December 9, 2013, during halftime at their game against the Dallas Cowboys.

September 12, 2016 - In response to NFL players not standing for the National Anthem, in a radio interview Ditka remarks, "they could do whatever they want but they'd never play another down for me."

CNN contributed to this report.