NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath defended athletes who protest during the national anthem on Tuesday, saying on Fox News that the original intent of the protests was to highlight racial injustice and oppression.

Responding to former NFL coach Mike Ditka, who said there's "no oppression" in modern society, Namath spoke up for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“Going back to what Colin Kaepernick initially did, it was to point out some injustice that’s being done to the black race,” Namath said on "Fox & Friends." “Or to people that obviously when you look — and I say obviously, some of these dash cams and shootings that were done to unarmed people. He was reaching out to try to get it more investigated. So that’s where this oppression thing comes in.”


Namath sharply disagree with Ditka, who remarked that "there has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of" in the U.S.

“Look up the meaning of oppression,” Namath said. “Look up the definition of oppression, and you understand that it’s obviously taken place.”

Namath did, however, say that NFL owners have the right to tell players not to protest while at work.

“Ownership has ownership," Namath concluded. "If somebody starts walking through here carrying a sign, what are the powers that be at Fox going to say to you? ‘Excuse me. Go do that somewhere else. Don’t do it in the workplace.'”

President Trump dove into the controversy last month when he said at a campaign rally in Alabama that NFL team owners should fire players who kneel in protest during the national anthem, arguing that doing so is disrespectful to the flag.

On Tuesday, the NFL announced that team owners would consider a rule change next week that would ban players from protesting during the national anthem after repeated attacks from the Trump administration and conservatives.

The issue received fresh attention on Sunday, when Vice President Pence and his wife walked out of an NFL game after players kneeled in protest during "The Star-Spangled Banner."