When Akiem Hicks signed with the Chicago Bears last March, few expected that he would play such an important role on the team.
Fast forward a year and six months, and Hicks is one of the best players on the roster. He is a leader. A role model. And, last week, he added another title: team captain. With the injury to teammate Jerrell Freeman, he was voted as the next man to wear the “C” patch on his right shoulder.
In an interview with the press at the Built Ford Tough Toughest Tailgate at the Brookfield Zoo on Saturday, Hicks discussed how important that role is to him.
“It means a lot to me.” he said. “Ultimately, it’s another responsibility. You’re looked at by your team as someone who’s responsible for a lot. I’ve always taken that pretty seriously, so I’m excited about it.”
Hicks certainly earned that status, given how vital he has been to the team’s performance. He broke out last year with a career high seven sacks, in addition to having 53 tackles, two forced fumbles and six stuffs. The Bears rewarded him with a massive contract extension, ensuring that he will be in their long-term plans in the coming years.
“It means everything to me. That’s all you want as a player; you want to be appreciated.” Hicks stated. “You want your front office to believe in you, and when you extend somebody in that manner, that’s what it means to me, and I’m looking forward to giving them everything they’ve given me and more.”
While Hicks and the defense seem to be well situated, the Bears’ offense has plenty of question marks, specifically at the quarterback position. Many have been calling for the benching of Mike Glennon in favor of first-round draft pick Mitch Trubisky. Despite all of the discussion surrounding those two, Hicks maintains that the team should be united, regardless of who the quarterback is.
“It’s a team. I know it gets cliché and it’s thrown around a lot, but it’s a team, and there are going to be forces outside that want to cause us to separate and have us do things that would make us look at each other funny in the locker room.” Hicks said. “I just believe that you never let that happen. You know what I mean? I’m not going to go T.O. (Terrell Owens) and say ‘that’s my quarterback’, but I will say that’s important to present a unified front, and to be truly unified at the end of the day.”
In case you haven’t logged onto social media over the past 24 hours, President Donald Trump tweeted out against free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, as well as all NFL players who kneel or sit for the National Anthem. He demanded that teams release any and all players who do not stand.
Whether you agree with Trump’s statement or not - * and need we remind you all, do NOT take to this issue in the comments (Ed.) - it certainly is surprising to see the President speak out about the situation.
Hicks told Windy City Gridiron, as well as The Bigs and The Sports Bank, that he believes that “it goes against a lot of the rights that we hold dear.” He added to that by saying, “I don’t appreciate it, but it’s where we’re at as a country right now, and it’s where our leadership is. I’m not an activist, and I’m not standing at the forefront of any movement, but I will say that you want to be respected; you want to be appreciated for what you do, and allow the basic human rights that we deserve.”
He said that the Bears do not currently have any plans for a response as a team, but that “everybody should act accordingly, and act how they feel that they should act, or do whatever they feel they need to do.”
The defensive lineman added that his main concern, though, was his “business meeting on Sunday”, when the Bears take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
* We did make an editorial decision to stay away from the more politically charged NFL related stuff, but with this story taking over the entire sports world, and now with members of the Chicago Bears commenting on it, I felt it was something we should cover.
I’m counting on you, the WCG community, to comment in a civil manner. We all have differing viewpoints. We all have different beliefs. But we’ll all also have the ability to remain respectful of each others viewpoints and beliefs.