Four downs with Mike Ditka

Written By BY MIKE DITKA Posted: 03/17/2014, 11:15am
Array Washington Redskins tight end Jerry Smith (87) is pictured in 1975. (AP Photo)

1. The NFL investigation says Richie Incognito and other Miami Dolphins harassed Jonathan Martin. Your thoughts on the latest developments?

I don’t think it was anything malicious — I just think it was some razzing that got out of control. This is what guys do in the locker room. Both of them could have handled it better. Martin didn’t have to do what he did, and Incognito was definitely wrong with what he did. They just have to be smarter.

2. Is an NFL locker room ready for Michael Sam or any other openly gay player?

I think it is. It’s a different time, a different era, and players have to understand that. Listen, if the guy can help your team, help you on the playing field, then I don’t think anyone will care what he does off the field.

3. Let’s say you’re coaching a team that drafts an openly gay player. What do you say to your team the first day of camp? Or does anything need to be said?

I’m not sure you do, but I think I would say that this guy is part of our football team and he’s here to help us. Let his play on the football field do the talking. You know, you have to accept a person for what they are. I’m different than him, but that doesn’t make me right. I think today’s player understands that.

4. NFL Network did a great story on former Redskins tight end Jerry Smith, who came out after his playing days were over in the 1970s. Were there whispers back then about certain players? Did it ever come up?

Never. I don’t ever remember hearing anyone talk about it. I didn’t know Jerry Smith [off the field]. I knew he was a great tight end for the Redskins. But guys never, ever talked about that stuff. It was a different time.

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