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Bears’ Chuck Pagano: ‘Eyes are opened up’ about social justice

Former cornerback Antonio Cromartie told Bleacher Report last fall that Pagano told the Colts not to kneel during the national anthem in 2016, the year Colin Kaepernick began protesting racial injustice and police brutality.

“What I know today compared to what I knew back then, my eyes are opened up, my ears are opened up,” said Chuck Pagano, the current Bears defensive coordinator and former head coach of the Colts.
“What I know today compared to what I knew back then, my eyes are opened up, my ears are opened up,” said Chuck Pagano, the current Bears defensive coordinator and former head coach of the Colts.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said his eyes and ears have “opened up” about social justice since he was the Colts’ head coach from 2012 to ’17.

Former cornerback Antonio Cromartie told Bleacher Report last fall that Pagano told the Colts not to kneel during the national anthem in 2016, the year Colin Kaepernick began protesting racial injustice and police brutality.

Bears players and coaches are discussing ways to fight social injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s death by a white police officer.

“We’ve all done a ton of listening and learning,” Pagano said in a video call Thursday.

“What I know today compared to what I knew back then, my eyes are opened up, my ears are opened up. I think we’re all learning a great deal, exactly what was going on and those kind of things.”

Coach Matt Nagy held a two-hour meeting June 1, which he called the most powerful he had ever attended, inviting players to talk about the intersection of race and social justice.

Some Bears players have said they plan to protest during the anthem, but Nagy said he wants his team to make a unified decision.

“I applaud our organization for getting out in front of this and having the conversations,” Pagano said. “Whatever comes to be, our guys know that coach Nagy has their back. They’ve got 100 percent of his support. They know the McCaskeys do and everybody in that organization, [GM Ryan] Pace . . . everybody.

“They’ve got full support. We’re going to do whatever we can do to help this fight and this cause — not let the flames burn out.”