The former coach made his comments during a national telecast of the Monday Night Fottball pre-game show. Ditka said "All of a sudden, it's become a big deal now, about oppression," he continued. "There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I'm 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."
Naturally, the reaction was swift with former Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. among those disagreeing with Ditka, pointing to history as proof that he was wrong.