There was plenty of drama in last night’s preseason opener regarding the NFL’s new helmet rule.
Blessedly, there was none regarding the national anthem, for which the league still doesn’t have an official policy.
Via Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune, Bears players stood with their arms linked (as they did last year) and all the Ravens players stood for the anthem prior to the Hall of Fame Game.
Bears coach Matt Nagy said before the game the team was still discussing how they’d handle it over the course of the season, but “whatever we do, we’re going to do it together.”
The NFL initially ruled in May that any player on the field must stand for the anthem, allowing them to stay in the locker room if they chose. That was tabled, as the league finally decided to invite players into the discussion. The league has asked owners to not talk about it, though Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made it clear he expected players to stand at the risk of their jobs.
Bears linebacker Sam Acho, the team’s NFLPA representative, said the Bears have had good discussions about how to handle the anthem, careful to listen to those with differing perspectives.
“It’s really, really hard,” Acho said. “And it can be confusing at times on how do you find an answer. How do you get a solution? Because not everyone has the same beliefs. Not everyone has the same experiences. Not everyone has the same skin color. Not everyone has the same religious background. Not everyone has the same sexual orientation. We come from so many different backgrounds and experiences, so it’s going to be hard to figure out one solution that fits everyone.
“But the great thing about a team is when you do something for your brothers, you’re doing it for yourself. And so even if you don’t believe wholeheartedly in some issue, you believe in your teammates. So you do it for your teammates.”
And for a night at least, the Bears and Ravens managed to maintain a unified front.