Bears nose tackle Bilal Nichols recorded his first sack of the season in last Sunday's 23-16 win over the Carolina Panthers. Here are five things you might not know about the third-year player.
(1) He's the second Bilal in NFL history.
With former New York Jets running back Bilal Powell unsigned, Nichols is currently the only person with his given name in the NFL. That's just what his mother, Nicole, intended when she named him.
"That's pretty much the only story behind it," said Nichols. "It really didn't mean anything. She just liked how unique it was."
In a worldwide view, Bilal is a fairly common name due to its relationship with Islam. In Arabic, Bilal means 'moisture' and was the name of one of the prophet Mohammed's companions. However, its lack of use in the United States attracted Nichols' mother to the name, not its historical context.
(2) He has two big things in common with coach Matt Nagy.
Like Nagy, Nichols played college football at the University of Delaware, a traditional FCS powerhouse. Also like Nagy, Nichols spent much of his childhood in the state of Pennsylvania. Nichols was born in Chester, Penn., and moved to Glasgow, Delaware, as a teenager.
For Nichols, it was a bit of a culture shock moving from the urban Chester to the pastoral Glasgow.
"When I moved there, everything was a lot quieter," said Nichols, "not as rowdy as it was living in the city in Chester."
It's certainly not unusual for Pennsylvanians to journey into The First State. Like Nagy and Nichols, presidential candidate Joe Biden also grew up in eastern Pennsylvania before attending the University of Delaware.
(3) Basketball was his first love.
Nichols led the Hodgson Vo-Tech football team to the Delaware state championship as a senior, but spent his last months of high school on the hardwood. Playing power forward, Nichols was a part of two tournament runs in his final two years of high school.
"I was lighter at the time," said Nichols, currently listed at 313 pounds. "I could jump, had pretty decent athleticism."
(4) He goes to Delaware to focus on football.
Nichols returns to Delaware in the offseason, but he doesn't engage in ocean activities associated with the state, which consists mostly of coastline. He doesn't fish or sail; he just goes there to focus.
"Delaware is more of a retirement-type state," said Nichols. "Pretty much when I'm there, I'm just training, spending time with my family. When I want to have fun or do something different, I'll go to a different place."
(5) He loves '90s movies.
When Nichols needs to escape, he likes to plug into a movie for two hours.
"I love a good movie," said Nichols. "It's something I like to do outside of football because it helps get your mind off of it. It helps you get your mind off of football [and] being on your phone."
Nichols' taste is rooted in movies that came out around the time he was born: "Friday," "Space Jam," and "Love & Basketball" are his favorites.