Akiem Hicks was apologetic and contrite Thursday when discussing for the first time his ejection from the Bears' 48-10 win over the Buccaneers Sept. 30 at Soldier Field.
The veteran defensive tackle, who is one of the most highly-respected leaders on the team, was kicked out of the game late in the first half after pushing an official.
"This was the first time I've been ejected from a game in my entire life, so for me it was very humbling," Hicks said. "The next time I'm in that situation, it will give me a chance to react better. It's also a lesson to the guys on the team that you don't put your personal situation above the team's situation."
Hicks pushed the official after being involved in an altercation with a Tampa Bay offensive lineman following Eddie Jackson's interception return. Hicks told reporters Thursday that he was "very relieved" he did not get suspended by the NFL.
"There's no feeling like going into the locker room just before halftime by yourself," Hicks said. "You sit in the locker room. It's just not something you're accustomed to. It was definitely a relief to not be suspended, but also it was time for reflection for myself."
The Bears led 35-3 when Hicks was ejected, but he's very cognizant of how much he could have hurt the team in a more tightly-contested game.
"Let's say we were in third-and-short and I get a penalty like that and now they've got a first down and a chance to win the game," Hicks said. "It's those things that you have to be more disciplined with."
It was important to Hicks to discuss the situation with his teammates.
"I really wanted in-house to understand how I felt about the situation and how I wanted to react better than I had on the field," he said. "I know there are a lot of young guys that look up to me on this team, and it's hypocritical of me to go out there and do things like that and come back to the locker room and think that everything's gravy. It doesn't work that way. I wanted them to know how I felt about the situation and how wrong my response was to the situation."
Hicks is eager to return to action Sunday when the Bears visit the Miami Dolphins. He has been one of the top performers on a resurgent defense this season, recording 11 tackles, three sacks, three tackles-for-loss, six quarterback hits and two forced fumbles.
"He's been productive versus both the run and the pass," said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. "He's a force for us inside there and playing really good."
Having avoided a suspension, Hicks feels like he has new life heading into Miami. Asked about his mindset entering the game, he said: "Destroy everything."