CHICAGO (AP) — Mike Ditka is apologizing for saying he wasn’t aware of any racial oppression in the U.S. over the last 100 years.
The famed former Chicago Bears coach issued the apology Tuesday, a day after he made the comments during a radio interview while discussing National Football League players kneeling during the National Anthem.
Ditka was harshly criticized for seemingly ignoring Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation and the lynching of blacks that occurred well into his lifetime.
In a statement later posted on WGN-TV, the Hall of Fame player and Super Bowl-winning coach said he was talking about the NFL, not society overall.
“I want to clarify statements that I made in an interview with Jim Gray last night. 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 color blind.” 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.”