clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bears kneel, raise fists for national anthem; others stay in locker room

Bears players had different approaches to protest Sunday.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions
Bears tight end Jimmy Graham raises his first during the national anthem Sunday.
Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

DETROIT — As the fires of social justice burned, Bears coach Matt Nagy said he wanted his players to decide about protesting as a team.

Sunday, though, the Bears protested in different ways. Nine players kneeled on the Bears sideline during the national anthem at Ford Field: defensive linemen Akiem Hicks, Roy Robertson-Harris, Brent Urban, John Jenkins and Bilal Nichols; inside linebackers Joel Iyiegbuniwe and Josh Woods; and offensive linemen Bobby Massie and Rashaad Coward. So did Bears coaches and staffers. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was among the Lions to do the same.

No Bears player had ever kneeled during the anthem. But many said after the killing of George Floyd and shooting of Jacob Blake — both by police officers — that they felt more comfortable to protest than they did in 2016, when former 49ers Colin Kaepernick first kneeled to protest racial injustice.

Outside linebacker James Vaughters, tight end Jimmy Graham and kicker Cairo Santos raised their fists. Others stood, with some linking arms. Nagy stood between quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who was standing, and Hicks. He put his arm around Hicks.

Another 21 Bears players came out of the locker room only after the anthem had been played.

Nagy said the disparate approaches actually fit into his team mantra of ‘Be You.’

“Every one of us has our opinion as to what’s going on right now,” he said. “What’s important to us right now is we understand that we all respect what somebody else is going through and what they want to do.”

Graham said he and his teammates wanted to simply support each other.

“For me, obviously being a mixed kid, growing up in the South, I’ve been through a little bit myself,” he said.” For me, it’s about change. Obviously this is a hot topic — and it needs to stay a hot topic until some legislation is passed to hold people accountable for total reform.“

Tackles Charles Leno and Massie kneeled during the playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” sometimes referred to as the Black national anthem, about a half hour before the game.

“We know, and we feel comfortable and very strong about the fact that we’re in this thing together,” Nagy said. “And you do what you do.”