LAKE FOREST – They come and they go. They start and they finish. Player or coach talks, journalist questions, player or coach leaves.
A few provide some funny moments while others provide conflict. Yet most news conferences fade out of conscious rather quickly, considering the volume of availabilities in a given year.
Hence when there is a memorable one, it’s worth holding onto. One of those occurred on Wednesday, outside of Halas Hall and just off the practice field where a OTA workout was just completed.
It went seven minutes and 27 seconds, which you can see here.
Sam Acho made every second worth it.
“No one’s intent and I think no one’s purpose was to disrespect the flag. Everyone’s purpose, starting with Colin Kaepernick, Michael Thomas, Eric Reid – who still doesn’t have a job – was to protest police brutality against people of color,” is how the Bears’ linebacker began an engaging news conference on Wednesday.
That was in response to a question on the NFL’s decision to enact new policies for the National Anthem – a song which was used as an opportunity to raise awareness for social injustice the last two years. Players have to stand if they’re on the field or their team faces a fine in 2018, while also holding the option of staying in the locker room if they chose not to adhere to the rule.
“You’re going to find a way to stand up for people who are being unjustly treated, find a way to stick up for justice in whatever way, shape, or form that you can possibly do it,” said Acho in continuing his answer.
During this snippet of the day, the Bears’ NFLPA player representative managed to encase a number of topics on this most controversial issue. The divisiveness of the past two years on the National Anthem demonstrations were broken down from a number of different angles by Acho, one that shined light on the mindset of a very enlightened Chicago Bear.
“Some guys on the team , we do a bible study in the morning, and we were reading ‘(King) James II’ and it talked about ‘faith without works is dead.’ Its one thing to have faith and say you believe in something. It’s a total different thing to actually do something about it,” said Acho.
The linebacker had a few in mind who’ve done so.
“That’s why I salute ‘Kap,’ that’s why I salute Eric Reid, Michael Thomas, all these guys that have, from the beginning, stood up for injustice – and some of them don’t have jobs right now, right? Colin Kaepernick is not in the NFL right now, Eric Reid is not in the NFL. They’re paying the price, right?,” said Acho. “But I think they’re – martyrdom is a strong word – but I’ll just use that term now – they’re martyrs now.
“They’re martyrdom is actually paying huge dividends for people who have no voice, they’re speaking up for the voiceless. As a Chicago Bear, as an NFL player, I’m going to continue to do that in any way, shape or form.”
Profound statements weren’t done for Acho, who was then asked if the NFLPA should have had more of a say in the new policy.
“I think we’re in a really good place. As a team, honestly as a country. Because we’re at this point of..almost like a point of contrition, right? What do you do now? Everybody knows. We always talk about the silent majority, right? The silent majority that allowed slavery to thrive. Even the silent majority, even going back to the Holocaust, right? There is a big time silent majority that people love staying in the grey, and right now you can’t do that anymore.” said Acho. “I can’t do that anymore, I can’t sit back and be silent. You can’t sit and be silent. You have to do something, say something. Even if you don’t agree, speak up for what you believe in, have a conversation.”
Yet these strong words were followed by a common message – the need for unity. Acho preached that what might be perceived as hatred between the owners and players is rather a continued complicated search for unity.
“Both sides need to come together. It would be easy for me to sit here as a player rep and say ‘We’ll the owners are horrible and we can’t stand them, they’re all evil. But George McCaskey and I have a great relationship. He came with me to a prison in Louisiana to learn more about some of the injustices that are going on. We do stuff in the community that no one knows about,” said Acho in discussing owner- player relations. “It’s not a ‘US vs Them’ thing, and I know even though this might be perceived as a ‘Us vs Them’ thing, either way both sides got to come together. Rich, poor, black, white, you have to come together. It’s not like it’s just these powers that be you talk about, whether it’s owners or whatever, are just oppressing, oppressing. There’s hatred on both sides. There’s doubt and fear on both sides, and I believe the only way to overcome that is a sense of love.
“That’s why I respect George, the McCaskey family, and I’m not just saying that for lip service, because they’re cameras here, because we’ve spent time together. We spend a ton of time together, the dude sacrifices a lot. I know the vote was 32 to zero with the owners, but I also know him as a man. So I know we’re getting to the bottom of this.”
Sam is one of the many that are trying – and in 7:27 he did his best to explain how during your average, ordinary news conference that was quite the opposite.