“We think players should stand and we encourage our players to stand,” he said. “We told our players that last September and we feel the same way.”
Earlier this year, NFL owners adopted a new policy that says players must stand for the national anthem if they’re on the field when it’s played, or they will face fines. Players also have the option to stay in the locker room during the playing of the anthem.
Not everyone accepted the Bears' support of the policy. A group of Illinois lawmakers, including Rep. Robin Kelly and Rep. Danny Davis, sent the team a letter criticizing the decision.
"It is disappointing that your franchise voted to silence the players you employ, during this important national dialogue," the letter said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The league has also announced social initiatives in response to players looking to effect positive change in the aftermath of the protests, and the Bears have said they will participate in those efforts.
“We are proud of our players for their social activism and their efforts to make the greatest city in the world better,” McCaskey said. “It has led to new social justice initiatives, not just at the league level but with each club.”
Several players, including linebacker Sam Acho, echoed McCaskey’s sentiments, and said they supported him in the decision to back the new NFL policy.
“I respect George and the McCaskey family,” Acho said. “I know the vote was 32-to-0 with the owners, but I also know him as a man. I know we’re getting to the bottom of this.”
Head coach Matt Nagy also said the team will continue to discuss ways to move forward under the new policy.
“We’ll communicate it, we’ll talk it out, and we’ll make sure we’re listening to everybody and trying to do the right thing as much as we can,” he said. “I know it’s a touchy subject, but I feel confident we’ll do it together.”