Playing through an illness isn’t an option for Bears, NFL players in 2020

Bears Report

LAKE FOREST, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 02: Eddie Jackson #39 of the Chicago Bears stretches during training camp at Halas Hall on September 02, 2020 in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

LAKE FOREST – Whenever a player pops up with an illness on the injury report, the thoughts immediately creep into fan’s heads.

Does the player have COVID-19 or is there a possibility of a positive test?

After missing the first two days of practice this week due to an illness, many wondered the same about arguably the team’s best player.

Akiem Hicks was out with illness both on Thursday and on Friday, prompting a quick question to head coach Matt Nagy about whether his absence was COVID related or not. Luckily, that’s not the case, and the Bears’ only player to be throw on the reserve list during the season, Badara Traore, was taken off it on Friday.

But it does bring up the question about how a player now deals with sickness during the 2020 season. Often in the past if a player wasn’t feeling well, they would push through the workout then recover once off the field.

That’s not going to happen during a pandemic, and Matt Nagy was clear about that on Friday.

“We’re all taught to ‘Be Tough’ right, and fight through it, but you can’t do that this year, you can’t,” said Nagy, who said he’s addressed that issue in team meetings. “If you have any type of symptom to make sure that you let (athletic trainer) Andre Tucker know and then we can got ahead and go through the steps of what need to be taken to see where you’re at; whether the COVID testing or just a normal common cold.”

Hicks’ status remains unknown for Monday’s game against the Rams, though he still has a few days to feel better thanks to the extra day. Illness outside of COVID will come up again for the Bears over the final nine weeks of the season, and Nagy expects his players to not “tough it out” when something comes up.

“If you try to be tough and fight through it and you have a sore throat and you don’t say anything and it just so happens that you have COVID and you don’t say anything and you bring it into the building, now all the sudden, we’re all at high risk,” said Nagy. “So we have to be selfless, and we explained that.”

So far, the team is getting the message.

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