Bears coach Matt Nagy spoke on Saturday about the team's decision to cancel practice on Thursday.
Professional athletes across the nation held out of games in protest of the events in Kenosha, Wis., after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot by a white police officer on Sunday. Bears players released a statement saying that they would pause football activities in favor of a discussion about race and police brutality.
Nagy offered his full support to the decision.
"I want to credit our players," said Nagy. "I thought they did a really good job at being able to voice and let us know where they stand and where they're at. I want to thank our support from the top with George [McCaskey], with Ted [Phillips], with Ryan [Pace], our coaches, our support staff. You can't plan for those type of days."
Nagy expressed his respect for the way the players handled the situation. With civil unrest happening less than an hour away from Halas Hall, Nagy believes the team emerged more united.
"To be able to come up and communicate out of pure respect to myself and our coaches what their plan of action was and what they wanted to do," said Nagy, "it's really, really making us strong right now, and we're really pulling together in a powerful way, and so that was their day."
Nagy compared the in-person discussion to the Zoom sessions the team had in the wake of the killing of George Floyd earlier this summer. The coaching staff did not speak publicly about the canceled practice to center the players in the discussion.
"That day was about the players," said Nagy. "It was about their voice, hence the reason why there was nothing from me or any coaches. That was very important to us. That was very important to them. They are the one voice; that was calculated, and it was intentional."
The reaction to the discussion on Thursday seemed to be positive, with several players tweeting about their appreciation for the team's unity.
"You know, football's a game, and what we're talking about, that's real life," said linebacker Robert Quinn. "You know it's real life for people that look like me as long as it's been going on, so, you know, to have guys that've been here and the position that they're in to step up and play the roles they play, I can only get behind the guys and support them because it's not like we're begging or pleading. Because we shouldn't have to beg or plead about no vibe. It's more about, this time, enough is enough."
Nagy expects that the team will grow closer together as they look for solutions to the systemic problems they want to address. He said that he would support his players in their efforts, even if it meant taking time away from football.
"Let me just tell you, the other day was extremely emotional for us and raw," said Nagy, "and this time it was live. It wasn't over Zoom. There was several people that talked—and again, I'm going to keep that internally out of respect to all of us—but we're at another level in regards to tightness and unified. If that's the route that somebody wants to go and they know we love 'em, they make that choice of what they need to do, we support them, and we'll just move on from there."