LAKE FOREST – The focus will be primarily on the task at hand at Ford Field with an awareness of greater social issues as well.
This has been the way it’s been for most of the NFL over the summer and it will continue on opening week.
Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer, a number of NFL players including members of the Bears have spoken on issues of race. Some have even taken part in demonstrations that have been happening across the country, while others have gotten involved with community activities.
The NFL has allowed players to place their own messages for social justice on their helmets as the 2020 season begins this week. A few Bears this week said they would do so, including running back David Montgomery, who said that he’ll wear a shirt with “a number of names of who’ve been involved in the racial injustice that happens in our everyday life or in our world.”
“It’s something that’s obvious out here that needs to be changed and I’d be foolish on myself to say that there wasn’t anything out there needed to change,” said Montgomery, who expressed his pride in being able to participate.
Receiver Allen Robinson says that he’ll wear a “Black Lives Matter” decal on his helmet for the opener on Sunday afternoon.
“I didn’t want to single out one particular person,” said Robinson. “There were some names on there that’s tough deciding on because they’ve all impacted us differently. I chose to decide on ‘Black Lives Matter’ so at the same time, for me, because that’s what it is. It’s every single one of us, all the people in my community, we’re all the same.
“Some people have ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirts and stuff like that, but all of us wear the the skin of that every day. So, again, I didn’t want to choose, to single out one, because all of those names matter.”
Head coach Matt Nagy says the Bears have a plan as a team for the national anthem but wouldn’t reveal it on Friday. The Texans remained in their locker room for the playing in Thursday night’s season opener while the Chiefs stood on the field for the playing.
Whatever it is, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky praised the team for their dialogue on the subject and was planning to join other teammates in possible demonstrations.
“We’ve been having great conversations and as family, what we’re gonna do and what we’re thinking about doing,” said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. “Those are still ongoing conversations. I don’t know what I’m doing yet, but I’m definitely aware of what it would mean and how it’s seen by my teammates and people on the outside no matter what you do.
“The focus for us is that we keep the focus on the game and make sure it doesn’t become a distraction. But we’ve got to make sure we’re continuing to make an impact off the field, in the community, and continue to go after those changes that we need to see in this country to stop those injustices from happening.”
NO AVOIDING STAFFORD THIS YEAR
One of the stats being thrown around about Matt Nagy this week is his great record against the Bears’ first opponent of 2020.
Since he took over in 2018, the Bears have yet to lose a game to the Detroit Lions, including two victories in a sub-par 2019 season. Skeptics will point to a big reason Nagy had the edge in both of last season’s games: The absence of Matthew Stafford.
The veteran quarterback was a late scratch against the Bears in their November 10th match-up at Soldier Field and would end up missing the rest of the season. It ended Stafford’s regular season streak of 136 games and was a big part of the Lions’ difficult 3-12-1 campaign.
On Sunday, the Bears will catch no break as the quarterback returns to the lineup hoping to pick up where he left off before the injury. Stafford had thrown for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns compared to five interceptions in just eight games last season.
“He was probably having one of the best seasons that he’s had,” said safety Eddie Jackson of Stafford in 2019. “We know him coming back this year, he has a lot because his season was cut short, so he’s gonna come out and give us everything he’s got.”
ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER KICKER
Kicker worries around Halas Hall is so 2019 – or at least the Bears thought when they entered training camp this year
But Eddy Pineiro’s groin injury hindered him in training camp and forced the Bears to place him on Injured Reserve for the first three weeks of the season.
So, once again, the Bears have to turn to another kicker, but this time its someone that is actually familiar with the team. Cairo Santo was a part of the Bears during November and December of 2017, the final year under John Fox’s leadership.
He wasn’t there long, kicking in two games, making 1-of-2 field goal attempts against the Eagles on November 26th then two extra points against the 49ers the next week. A groin injury would end his season and he’s since played for the Bucs, Rams, and Titans.
That lingered for Santos, who was released by Tennessee after missing four field goals against Buffalo last October. But the kicker says he feels rejuvinated as he works again with a number of people he did three years ago with the Bears
“I feel as healthy as I’ve ever been. Physically, I like my playing weight right now. I got back to where I was in my prime in Kansas City, so I’m just looking forward to get going. It’s been a great fit here in Chicago with Nagy and Pace – I love those guys.
“Pat O’Donnell and (Patrick) Scales being here, they were here in 2017 when I was here, so we developed a great relationship and we’ve been putting in some good work in practice.”
STAT OF THE WEEK: 6
The number of consecutive opening games the Bears have lost, dating back to the 2014 season. Their last win in Week 1 came in 2013, when the Bears beat the Bengals 24-21 on September 8th of that year.
See more on the Bears on Chicago Football Weekly with Jarrett Payton and Lauren Magiera on Saturday nights during the season at 6 PM on WGN-TV.