The Bears caught a break when the NFL decided against suspending Akiem Hicks for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins after the defensive lineman made contact with an official in Week 4's blowout win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hicks, too, was relieved he wasn't suspended and spent plenty of time after Sept. 30's game reflecting on his actions.
Hicks didn't publicly speak about the incident until Thursday at Halas Hall because he wanted to address his teammates first. Specifically, Hicks wanted to communicate to his younger teammates how wrong his actions were, and how they could've had a much more negative affect had they not come during a 38-point win.
"I know there are a lot of young guys that look up to me on this team, and it's hypocritical of me to go out there and do things like that and come back to the locker room and think that everything's gravy," Hicks said. "It doesn't work that way. So I wanted to make sure that our guys knew how I felt about the situation, and then I spent time with (the media)."
"… I wanted them to know how I felt about the situation and how wrong my response was to the situation."
Hicks said he'd never been ejected from a game before, and the feeling of having to go back to the locker room before the rest of his teammates was one he'd never experienced. He was fined $33,425 for making contact with an official.
"You sit in the locker room," Hicks said. "It's just not something you're accustomed to.
"So it was definitely a relief to not be suspended, but also it was a time for reflection for myself. My boys know I'm going to run hot sometimes, but one place that I run hot is when you have stuff on the line in a game. I guess I just look more so at the possible penalties-what could have happened, the damage I could have done to our team. Let's say we were in a third-and-short and I get a penalty like that and now they've got a first down and a chance to win the game. It's those things that you have to be more disciplined with."
Coach Matt Nagy praised how Hicks handled his ejection in the days after it happened and said his message to the team was well-received.
"He was very apologetic," Nagy said. "He knew he made a mistake, and that's not who he is. I think his track record shows that."
Hicks has totaled three sacks, two forced fumbles and 15 pressures (per Pro Football Focus) through three and a half games this year, so his availability against Miami will certainly be welcome for Vic Fangio's group. With the all-clear to play Sunday, Hicks offered what his mindset will be - and it's what he's already done all season.
"Destroy," Hicks said. "Destroy everything."