The Chicago Bears will host the New England Patriots this weekend, and that means it’s time to consider one of the most notable recent defectors from Gillette Stadium to Soldier Field: defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.
The focus of a 2015 trade that sent Michael Hoomanawanui to New Orleans, Hicks contributed immediately, recording three sacks, four quarterback hits and 11 hurries in 13 games. He left for Chicago after the 2015 season, and in advance of this weekend’s game, he remembered his introduction to the Bill Belichick Way Of Doing Business.
‘Celebrate with your teammates’
“When I first got there and I was getting some of my first in-game action, I made a play, and I had like gestured toward the crowd or somewhat of a semi-celebration,” Hicks laughed during a media conference call. “And I got back to the sideline, and Bill came up to me and was like, ‘We don’t need that. We don’t need that here.’ And I was like, ‘OK, I guess no celebrations after big plays.’ That was some of my experience there, pretty much. ‘Celebrate with your teammates’ was the message that I took from there.”
Yep, that seems about right for an organization run by Belichick, who looks about as happy on the sideline as he would during an appendectomy. But don’t judge Hicks just yet.
Hicks ‘absolutely loved’ his time in New England
Lest you think for a second that Hicks was joining the ever-growing roll of players ripping Belichick after they’ve left, he’s not bitter at all.
“Loved it, man, absolutely loved it,” Hicks said of his time in New England. “Loved how the organization ran. Great coaching, nothing but phenomenal things to say about that organization as a whole from the top down. I fondly remember morning meetings, 8 o’clock, maybe about 7:30, and seeing Mr. [Robert] Kraft coming into the meeting room and having a seat with his sneakers on. It was a great experience for me.”
Belichick takes plenty of grief for the way he treats players as disposable assets, to be used and cast aside, but he made a strong push to hold onto Hicks, even to the point of making a last-second phone call to try to get him to stay with New England. But Hicks ended up opting for Chicago, and the bid paid off; he signed a four-year, $48 million extension last offseason.
The Patriots play the Bears this weekend in what will be a bigger test for Chicago than New England. And Hicks, along with fellow defensive monster Khalil Mack, could have a significant impact on the game’s outcome.
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