This September, the Chicago Bears are achieving progress both on and off the field. The Monsters of the Midway are first in the standings of their respective division, with a very favorable opportunity to move to a surprising 3-1 start on Sunday.
In terms of standing for betterment of the community, Chicago is also first, as they became the initial NFL team to maximize the NFL’s new social justice initiative. The team announced last week that the organization will commit $500,000 toward social justice initiatives in the city of Chicago, with a focus on education and community police relations.
On Sunday, the Bears are anywhere from one to three-point favorites when they host Tampa Bay in Week 4, meaning oddsmakers see it as roughly a "pick'em" game. As a charter franchise, the league really needs the Bears to be relevant again. According to SBD's Bears stats page, the Bears hold NFL records for most wins by a franchise (739), the most Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees (27), and the most retired jerseys (14).
That same stat page also tells us the team has only made the playoffs four times in the last 23 years. Their recent run of failure (just three postseason wins since 1994) is probably why most people still don't feel confident in their winning the division this season. While Chicago are currently tied for the NFC North lead at 2-1, they are still well behind Minnesota (+130) and Green Bay (+200) in division title futures at +350.
They are pushovers no more, not with that stout defense, led by Khalil Mack, who they absolutely stole from the Oakland Raiders. When it comes the tackles for losses and sacks, the Bears are as strong as anybody in the NFL in this regard, but quarterback Mitchell Trubisky still hasn't shown any real improvement. Outside of scripted, first-quarter drives, he's barely moving the ball. Until he learns to move on from his first read and work through all of his progressions, the Bears offense is going to consistently stagnate.
Trubisky was drafted because of his passing accuracy, but he has not been very accurate. While QB is a question mark for Chicago, the Buccaneers are even more of a wild card as they haven't even announced who will start under center this week, Jameis Winston or Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Whether the Bears finish 15-1 or 2-14 (or anything else in between this season), what they're accomplishing off the field matters much more. The players intend to raise $250,000 for social justice programs, a contribution that ownership will match. That's half a million dollars going towards trying to build a more equitable and just society.
"This whole thing got started a little over two years ago when obviously Colin Kaepernick and some players around the NFL were taking knees, and there was a big discussion about what can we as players and as a team do to help address some of the issues that people are protesting," Bears linebacker Sam Acho said.
"And so that’s why we got together and said not only do we want to do stuff in the community, but we also want to put our money behind it," he added.
The Chicago Bears fighting for civil rights goes back to last season. Team Captain and defensive end Akiem Hicks did a question and answer session with The Sports Bank, and two other reporters, exactly one year ago and here's what Hicks had to say when the topic of President Donald Trump attacking players who kneel during the national anthem came up:
"I think that it goes against a lot of the rights that we hold dear and the rights that we fight for as citizens in America. I don't really appreciate it, but it's where we're at as a country right now, and it's where our leadership is. I'm no activist and I'm not standing at the forefront of any movement, but I will say that you want to be respected and you want to be appreciated for what you do, and be allowed the basic human rights that we all deserve."
One year later, Hicks and his teammates are activists, standing at the forefront of a very important movement.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, is currently a regular contributor to SB Nation, WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.
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