Bears wary of locker-room debate amid ‘crazy’ election

SHARE Bears wary of locker-room debate amid ‘crazy’ election

Bears players find talk of the election difficult in their locker roon. (AP)

Bears players can agree on one aspect of the most divisive Presidential race of their — or any — lifetime.

“This expletive is crazy,” linebacker Jerrell Freeman said, censoring himself.

“This (expletive) is crazy,” guard Eric Kush said, not showing the same restraint. “We all agree on that. And that’s it.”

On the eve of the Presidential election, though, the Bears locker room hasn’t exactly split into Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump factions. In a locker room where nothing is off limits, most Bears players have opted for caution.

“You’re teammates,” Kush said. “Especially with an election like this, you don’t want to get into that.”

Tight end Ben Braunecker, a rookie from Harvard who voted absentee, knows what he believes.

“Of course I do,” he said. “But this is one of those elections, where, if you voice those opinions, you’re going to upset somebody.”

Among team sports, only baseball boasts broader socioeconomic diversity; in the NFL, though, most players are American citizens, and can vote.

“I think our consensus, like most of the public, is people saying, ‘This is nuts,’” outside linebacker Sam Acho said. “You’ve got two candidates with both of their own issues. …

“There’s definitely some political conversations, but funny enough, it hasn’t gotten too political over the last couple months.”

Acho, who spent time in Washington, D.C., this offseason lobbying Congress on behalf of the American Diabetes Association, said the Bears talked politics more during training camp. That was a product of a larger roster — 90 players compared to 53 — and more free time.

“They joke about the politics every now and then, but no one’s sitting here saying who they’re going to vote for,” cornerback Tracy Porter said. “They may say it jokingly, but you don’t have the defense lobbying the offense to vote for this person, and vice versa.”

Outside the locker room, “there’s political polarization that I don’t see any way of improving,” Braunecker said.

He blames blind allegiance of voters — “Anybody’s going to stick behind any candidate, so long as they represent their party,” he said — on cable news stations that spin news items to fit their agenda.

“The people that only watch those news stations get basically two different realities,” he said.

Maybe, he was asked, blind allegiance to a party is similar to the way fans view teams?

He said he could equate a quarterback with a Presidential candidate — particularly how their behavior is held to a different standard.

“Perhaps people can be that loyal behind somebody that wears their jersey, represents them, their point of view, their way of life,” he said. “Yeah, I can see that.”

The locker room is a “beautiful place,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said, because players of different backgrounds learn about each other through daily interaction.

“I’m talking about everything, the full gambit,” he said.

The election, though, seems to be the third rail — and a dirty word.

“If you guys were in here for 24 hours, you’d hear a lot worse things than politics,” Porter said. “Politics is the least of our worries right now.”

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