The legendary coach of the National Football League (NFL), Mike Ditka, announced, “Leave the country,” in reference to the athletes who kneel during the national anthem, joining the protests of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the United States.

“I think there’s one way to protest and there’s another way not to protest. Don’t protest against the flag, don’t protest against the country that has given you the opportunity to make a living by playing a sport,” Ditka emphasized according to a video released July 26.

“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get out of the country,” said the famous coach of the Chicago Bears, and Hall of Famer, according to TMZ.

Ditka, now 80, also known as “Iron Mike,” played, coached, and was a football commentator. He played in the NFL from 1961 to 1972 with the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys.

The resurgence of the BLM movement after the death of African-American George Floyd on May 25 in police custody prompted a broad system of anti-racism protests, which are expressed in sports by gestures considered unpatriotic.

Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) allowed their players to express their support for the BLM movement through their uniforms and other clothing worn during the warm-ups.

On MLB’s opening day earlier this week, players from the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees knelt for a minute while holding a single black cloth behind the foul lines. The teams rose to hear the anthem.

Players from the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm teams affiliated with the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), walked off the court as the U.S. national anthem was played in protest on July 25, which is considered disrespectful to the country.

The action was announced earlier by the association as a way to address the nation’s “long history of inequality, implicit prejudice, and racism.”

In response to the announcement, Senator Kelly Loeffler (R–Ga.), co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, another women’s basketball team, condemned the new WNBA initiative, saying there should be “less—not more politics in sports.

Loeffler proposed that the league put the American flag on every jersey and call for unity celebrating “the values of freedom and equality for all,” but it was not heard.

Beth Baumann, an associate editor of Townhall, supports Ditka’s position. “You have to give her credit for standing up for her beliefs, for our nation, and against those who want to silence conservatives. If more influential people said what they feel instead of what they think they should believe, the silent majority would be better represented across our nation and in Hollywood,” Baumann said.

The BLM demonstrations have caused hundreds of deaths and significant damage in many cities across the United States, apparently by members of radical leftist groups such as Antifa. They also are calling for the defunding of the police.

Many see the movement as driven by politically motivated Democrats, leading up to the November presidential election.