NFL

Akiem Hicks feared being 'blackballed' if he followed Kaepernick's kneeling lead

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks said he feared that he would be blackballed if he joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the national anthem.

NFL player hopes it doesn't remain reality for future protests of racial inequality

In 2016, Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks recalled, he thought his job, career and life would be over if he joined then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the national anthem to protest police brutality. ( Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images/File)

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks said he feared that he would be blackballed if he joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the national anthem.

Kaepernick's decision to take a knee during the 2016 season was in protest to racial inequality.

"At that time when Kaepernick was taking a knee, I had the same thought that 85, 90 per cent of the league thought at that moment: 'If I get down on one knee in front of this stadium, I am fired,'" Hicks said, via the Chicago Tribune. "'My job, my career, my life is over. I will be blackballed.'

"And then to come out on the other end and watch it actually happen to Kaepernick, it just tells me my feelings were real. It was the reality, and hopefully it won't be going forward."

WATCH | NFL commissioner admits league mistake for not listening to players: 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league was wrong for not listening to players fighting for racial equality and encourages them to peacefully protest. 0:49

Hicks, 30, was rather direct when discussing one example as to why Kaepernick remained unemployed.

"We signed Mike Glennon," Hicks said.

Glennon, who was an unproven backup quarterback, signed a three-year, $45-million contract with Chicago in 2017. He started the first four games, throwing for 833 yards and four touchdowns to go along with eight turnovers (five interceptions, three fumbles) in the Bears' 1-3 start.

Since then, Glennon has appeared in four games (two each with the Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders) while Kaepernick remains unemployed.

WATCH | Canadian athletes speak out against racism:

Canadian athletes have been speaking out against racism and for change, including tennis youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime, basketball legend Steve Nash, and Olympians Kia Nurse, Karina LeBlanc and Perdita Felicien 2:38

Glennon, 30, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in May.

Hicks, a Pro Bowl selection in 2018, enters his ninth NFL season (fifth with

Chicago) in 2020 with 313 career tackles, 33.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in 114 games.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now