Mike Ditka apologizes comment on racial oppression

Former NFL coach and University of Pittsburgh alumnus, Mike Ditka speaks at a news conference for the retirement of the number 75 jersey for former Pittsburgh offensive lineman Jim Covert before an NCAA football game between the Pittsburgh and the Notre Dame, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

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.

His radio comments came ahead of the Bears’ game Monday night.