CHICAGO – Matt Nagy put football on the back burner Monday as protests over George Floyd’s death continued across the country.
“Football is secondary. We need to get life right.”
The Bears head coach didn’t use the team’s two-hour meeting to talk X’s and O’s. He just wanted listen.
“When the two hours ended – and I’m sure we could have gone longer – we were all very, emotionally drained, in a good way.”
“I wasn’t excited to get on that call. I didn’t think anything positive was going to come from it. I didn’t know why were having this moment where we were singing Kumbaya and trying to get over what’s going on in the world,” explained Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. “I felt like it might be a controlled situation where they want to control the narrative and point us in the same direction so when we talk to you guys, there’s only going to be a certain message that you guys hear. It was the complete opposite. I watched young black men, young white men, older coaches from all across the United States reveal themselves in a way that isn’t common in sport or masculinity in general, and express their real feelings out in the open – out in positions where you feel like somebody could start pointing at you and say, ‘Oh, I don’t know if that’s a good guy. I don’t know if we want him on the team or if that’s the type of person we want around the building.’ Everybody let those feelings go and shared from the heart and shared their real experiences. There was some hurtful stuff in there. Some stuff where people were changed and altered for life.
“There was a level of healing involved in that call. There was a level of us just coming together. We just got a little bit tighter because we had this experience together. It was a positive call and I think it changed the lives of some of the young men on the team. It changed mine. It changed my perspective on life.”
“We just wanted to know where we stand as a team,” remarked Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan. ” I feel like if we don’t talk to one another, we can’t trust one another. To be a great team, you have to trust the people that you’re playing with. If you know what they’ve been through, you go hard for people like that.
“You can’t keep ignoring stuff and putting it under the table. We have to be men about it and deal with it. Actually take actions without fearing the repercussions of stuff.”
“The biggest thing is a group of people being past the threshold of just sitting back being calm,” noted two-time Ed Block Courage Award winner Allen Robinson. “I think a lot more positives have come out of this than negative. Yes, you see people being arrest and looting and things like that, but at the same time there is a lot of knowledge being spread. A lot of people are opening their eyes and ears now to the things that are going on that they may not have before.”
“My mom used to kiss me on the head every morning before I would leave. Back then, I hated it because I didn’t know what was going on in the bigger picture of things. I was just focusing on her kissing me in front of my friends, my peers. ‘Wipe that off Ma, get out of here,'” Trevathan remembered. “But now, I see the reason behind it. She feared that I would never come back home to her. That’s terrifying as a person, as a human. Now I have to instill that in my daughters, both of them. No matter how young, those are real-life topics we need to discuss and I have to talk to them about that. It’s uncomfortable, but you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable nowadays.”
Colin Kaepernick has been an uncomfortable topic for some in the past, but that seems to be changing.
The former 49ers quarterback’s decision to kneel for the National Anthem polarized fans. Now, more are starting to understand he was protesting police brutality and racial injustice. Players like Hicks don’t think he should be passed over by NFL teams anymore.
“We signed Mike Glennon.”
“Do I know if [Kaepernick] would have gotten a huge deal and gone on to be a Hall of Fame quarterback? I don’t know these things. I just know that when he took a knee, he was silenced, or they attempted to silence him.”
Kaepernick’s message is being heard now and it’s only getting louder.