The first Sunday of the NFL season was marked by several anthem protests around the league, but it’s not yet known if Monday night’s Minnesota Vikings-New Orleans Saints matchup will follow suit, given that the contest falls on the 16th anniversary of 9/11.
Continuing the movement started by now-former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 preseason, several players protested police violence against minorities during the regular-season opener last year, which happened to fall on September 11.
‘There’s a time for everything,’ legendary former Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints coach Mike Ditka told TMZ when asked about Monday’s game on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. ‘Before a football game is not the time or place for it—period.’
The Saints-Vikings game is the only NFL contest being played on Monday, September 11.
This year, Ditka hopes to see all of New Orleans and Minnesota’s players on their feet during the anthem.
‘The majority of people are going to understand what 9/11 meant, what this country stands for, the values that we have, and they’re gonna go in that direction,” Ditka said. ‘You can’t stop everybody. There’s always gonna be some malcontents. So let them be malcontents, let them do their thing. They’ll move on. Nobody will think about it. Nobody will remember who they were. The fact that they didn’t stand for the national anthem, that’s their own right to do that. They have a right to do anything. I just disagree with it.’
Neither the Saints nor the Vikings have a history of public protests.