Bears

Layers of learning process begin for Bears' rookie Adam Shaheen

Layers of learning process begin for Bears' rookie Adam Shaheen

Bears second round rookie Adam Shaheen is big, has had big expectations placed on him with that draft status, and has learned the hard way how to be a big boy, facing up to mistakes.

The 6-foot-6, 277-pound tight end from Division II Ashland admits in the two weeks since becoming the 45th overall pick, he's had to pretty much keep his head from spinning off his neck. It came full circle when walking into Halas Hall Thursday to report to rookie minicamp.

"I'm nervous, obviously. It's to be expected," Shaheen said Saturday, not referring to the four- or five-person press conferences in college he became used to, rather the magnitude of the building, the franchise, the league. "I'm just real excited to be here and make the best of my opportunity."

The former basketball player has hung up those shoes after getting the itch to return to football taking in a Wisconsin-Ohio State football game in Columbus a few years back. But he's still a loyal NBA watcher, as he and roommate Mitch Trubisky did at their hotel to wind down from the first day of minicamp.

Sorry, guys. He's a Cavs fan.

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With the little time he's spent with Trubisky, he sees some of the same signs his bosses apparently saw:  "The demeanor in which he carries himself.  As well as back home he's in the books really trying to learn and develop himself as a starter."

And, oh, that nearby hotel they're staying in? There's a Chipotle right across the street about one light down. That restaurant was Shaheen's "go-to" place in packing on 90  pounds post-hoops, to get where he is today, with some discipline and workouts.

And he has a "go-to" meal there:

"I get a burrito with extra, extra white rice. And then double the chicken, which you've got to tell them because with one scoop of chicken they try to mix it in and you won't get as much. Then just a little corn."

Yes, he's gone there the first two nights in town. And it's a burrito. Not a burrito bowl. But as for the "extra, extra white rice..."

People who'd learned about Shaheen's Twitter history became aware of one, say, less-than-complimentary post several years ago about President Barack Obama. So when the Chipotle recipe was relayed as he spoke Saturday, snark responses followed.

"I know exactly what you're talking about," Shaheen said when broached on the subject. "I was a dumb teenager. If I had the maturity I do now, I would have discovered there could be some potential problems. I would have understood.

"One of my buddies went, 'Hey, man, this is blowing up. (I'm) gonna have to delete that.' Then I went through all of them. I was, like, 'Wow'...just completely...I was a high schooler."

Just another part of the professional playbook the 22-year-old is beginning to absorb.

NFL Anthem policy won’t keep Sam Acho, others from standing up for what they believe in

NFL Anthem policy won’t keep Sam Acho, others from standing up for what they believe in

By a 31-0 vote, NFL owners on Wednesday approved a policy addressing player protests of the National Anthem that became a political flashpoint last fall. The rule removes the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem, but any team and league personnel who are on the field “shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

If a player is on the field and does not “stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” his team will be fined by the NFL. Teams will be allowed to develop their own rules regarding their personnel who “do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” as well.

The NFLPA was not consulted in creating this policy, and collectively sent a strongly-worded statement about the “policy” on Wednesday afternoon.

Sam Acho is the Bears’ union representative and spoke Wednesday about the policy change.

“Obviously, from the beginning, no one’s intent and I think that no one’s purpose was to disrespect the flag,” Acho said. “Everyone’s purpose, starting with Colin Kaepernick, Michael Thomas, Eric Reid — who still doesn’t have a job — was to protest police brutality against people of color. I think that still stands, right? You’re going to find a way to stand up for people who are being unjustly treated, find a way to stick up for justice in whatever way, shape or form you can possibly do it.”

The Bears did not have any player kneel for the National Anthem last year, and as a team decided to lock arms a day after President Donald Trump tweeted, among other things, that teams who have players who knelt should “get that son of a bitch off the field right now.” But just because the Bears didn’t have a member openly protesting during the National Anthem didn’t mean no one was working to raise awareness of injustice and police brutality against people of color, Acho said.

So that players, effectively, will not be allowed to kneel for the National Anthem anymore won’t prevent anyone from continuing their activism for causes in which they believe.

“Was I okay with the ruling? Well I don't know, I guess people make decisions and it's up to you to either stick with them or find a different way to stand up for what you believe in,” Acho said. “So to ask if I'm okay with the ruling I don't know if that's the right question to ask. I think the right question would be well what do you do now? And I think about me and I think about what guys on this team are doing. Like we're already in the community, we're already finding a way to protest police brutality against people of color.

“We're working with the police, we're working with people of color and we're doing it. I think protesting is a great avenue to do that, to bring awareness. Obviously protest has brought a ton of awareness to the abuses of power that are going on in our country and I think that was a great method to start a conversation. Now what we're seeing is we're seeing action.”

Acho added that he and some of his teammates, during a bible study Wednesday morning, focused on a passage from James 2: “Faith without works is dead,” which underscores the importance of players continuing to use their platform to stand up for what they believe in however they can.

“It's one thing to have faith and say you believe in something and it's a total different thing to actually do something about it,” Acho said. “That's why I salute Kaep, I salute Eric Reid, Michael Thomas, all these guys who have from the beginning stood up for injustice. And some of them don't have jobs right now right? Colin Kaepernick right now is not in the NFL. Eric Reid is not in the NFL, they're paying the price, right?

“But I think that their, martyrdom is a strong word but, I just use that term now, their martyrdom is actually paying huge dividends for people with no voice. They're speaking up for the voiceless and as a Chicago Bear, as an NFL player I'm going to continue to do that in any way, shape or form.

“As you all know last year we didn't have guys taking a knee. We locked arms, we stayed together, we were unified as a team. That's what we are, we're a team but just because you're not protesting the National Anthem doesn't mean somebody can keep you from standing up for those that are being treated unfairly.”

Whatever the Bears do in 2018, they’ll do as a team — Mitch Trubisky said he believes he and his teammates will all be on the field for the National Anthem — but, despite today’s policy change, that won’t keep players like Acho from continuing to further their message.

“I don't think anything really changes at this point, right?” Acho said. “Obviously, the NFLPA goes back and says, 'OK, what do we do now? As a union, what do we do? How will we respond?' But, to be honest, I think a lot of players are happy about the conversations that are happening. So the protest served their purpose.

“If guys still want to protest, obviously the ruling is if that if you don't want to stand for the anthem, according to the owners, you can stay inside. You may see a whole team stay inside like Pittsburgh did in Week 3. I'm not Nostradamus, so I don't know what happens next, but I will say we continue to do what we're doing, speak up for those who can't speak up for themselves.” 

Under Center Podcast: What should we make of Kevin White?

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: What should we make of Kevin White?

Kevin White had a, well, interesting media session on Wednesday, but was he wrong for how he approached it? Plus, Moon and JJ look at Mike Furrey’s approach to White and how Mitch Trubisky is quickly growing into being a leader barely over a year after being drafted. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: