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Bears' Sam Acho, Players Union Rep, Reacts To NFL's New Anthem Policy

May 23, 2018 - 4:39 pm
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- NFL owners voted unanimously Wednesday for a new policy regarding protests during the national anthem, mandating that those on the field must stand or otherwise risk fines for their teams. Players will be allowed to remain in the locker room if they so choose.

This announcement came in conjunction with the league's owners meetings and made way to facilities across the league, including the Chicago Bears' home at Halas Hall. 

The news was still fresh as the Bears walked off the field for practice as part of OTAs, and new coach Matt Nagy said it will be discussed in a team meeting. Veteran linebacker Sam Acho, the Bears' representative to the NFLPA, was already well-versed in what happened.

While many will view this as a divide between the players and owners, Acho hopes it can bring the two sides closer together.

"It's not an us-versus-them thing," Acho said. "Even though it might be perceived as an us-versus-them thing, either way both sides got to come together -- rich, poor, black, white. You have to come together. It's not like these powers at be that you talk about, whether it's owners or whatever, are oppressing, oppressing, oppressing. There's hatred on both sides. There's doubt and fear on both sides. I think the only way to overcome that is a sense of love. 

"That's why I respect George and the McCaskey family. And I'm not just saying that as lip service because there are cameras here. I'm saying that because we've spent time together. We've spent a ton of time together, and he sacrifices a lot. I know the vote was 32-to-0 with the owners, but I also know him as a man. I know we're getting to the bottom of this."

Acho re-signed with the Bears this offseason while he was in Louisiana with McCaskey on a tour of a prison, where the Bears' chairman was learning with the linebacker about injustices in society. McCaskey is quite involved with players' off-field causes with efforts that are mostly unseen, Acho said.

Bears players like Acho, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and center Cody Whitehair reflected with pride on how the team came together last September amid demands from President Donald Trump for players to stand during the anthem. The Bears have opted to represent unity with linked arms during the anthem.

The Bears often meet with local law enforcement officials, including the Chicago police chief, and share views with each other, Acho said. They also speak as teammates about issues greater than football.

"From the beginning, nobody's intent or purpose was to disrespect the flag," Acho said. "Everyone's purpose, starting with Colin Kaepernick, Michael Thomas, Eric Reid -- who still doesn't have a job -- was to protest police brutality against people of color. That still stands, right? You're going to find a way to stand up for people who are being unjustly treated, find a way to stick up for justice in whatever way, shape or form you can possibly do it."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CEmma670.