Chicago Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks said he feared that he would be blackballed if he joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the national anthem.
Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the 2016 season was in protest to racial inequality.
“At that time when Kaepernick was taking a knee, I had the same thought that 85, 90 per cent of the league thought at that moment: ‘If I get down on one knee in front of this stadium, I am fired,'” Hicks said, via the Chicago Tribune. “‘My job, my career, my life is over. I will be blackballed.’
“And then to come out on the other end and watch it actually happen to Kaepernick, it just tells me my feelings were real. It was the reality, and hopefully it won’t be going forward.”
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Hicks, 30, was rather direct when discussing one example as to why Kaepernick remained unemployed.
“We signed Mike Glennon,” Hicks said.
Glennon, who was an unproven backup quarterback, signed a three-year, $45-million contract with Chicago in 2017. He started the first four games, throwing for 833 yards and four touchdowns to go along with eight turnovers (five interceptions, three fumbles) in the Bears’ 1-3 start.
Since then, Glennon has appeared in four games (two each with the Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders) while Kaepernick remains unemployed.
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Glennon, 30, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in May.
Hicks, a Pro Bowl selection in 2018, enters his ninth NFL season (fifth with
Chicago) in 2020 with 313 career tackles, 33.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in 114 games.