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Bears players participating in NFL Heritage Program


Cairo Santos is extremely proud to be the first Brazilian-born player ever to play in the NFL. This weekend, the Bears' kicker will have another opportunity to show that to the world.

Santos will wear a sticker of the Brazilian flag on the back of his helmet Sunday night when the Bears visit the Los Angeles Chargers—just as he did during last weekend's home game against the Raiders.

It's part of the NFL Heritage Program that celebrates the cultural origins of players and coaches throughout the league. During Weeks 7 and 8, players are wearing flags on their helmets and coaches are donning patches on their jackets. More than 330 players and coaches are taking part in the program throughout the league.

Participants can choose to wear the flag of an international country or territory where relatives have been born or where they've lived for over two years.

Santos was born and raised in Brazil. He ventured to Florida as a high school exchange student when he was 15 years old and fell in love with American football, eventually earning a scholarship to Tulane.

Santos is excited to wear the Brazilian flag on the back of his helmet.

"It's awesome," he said. "It's a tremendous honor. I feel like every time I'm on the field with a sticker on my helmet, Brazil is with me in the NFL."

Punter Trenton Gill is wearing two stickers. His dad grew up in England, while his mom is from Canada. His dad moved to Canada at the age of 10 and met Gill's mom when they were students at Lambton College in Sarnia, Ontario.

Gill still has relatives in both countries and is happy to wear the flags on his helmet to honor them.

"It's cool to be able to show them that I'm kind of playing for them," Gill said. "It's cool to be able to play for these people who have been influential in my life."

Other Bears who will don flag stickers Sunday night in conjunction with the NFL Heritage Program include receiver DJ Moore (Jamaica), defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (Martinique) and receiver Velus Jones Jr. (Netherlands).

Moore's father is from Jamaica, and the Bears receiver is proud of his heritage, saying it means "a whole lot to me, so I'm going to represent it the best I can."

Jones has several ancestors who hailed from the Netherlands and is happy to honor them, saying: "I feel like anything a part of you is the reason I am who I am today, so you take pride in it."