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updated: 9/25/2017 7:23 AM

Imrem: National anthem controversy unifies Chicago Bears

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  • The Pittsburgh Steelers side of the field is nearly empty during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Steelers and Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Chicago. The Pittsburgh Steelers players did not come out to the field during the anthem.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers side of the field is nearly empty during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Steelers and Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Chicago. The Pittsburgh Steelers players did not come out to the field during the anthem.

 
 

Hey, Mr. Trump, characterizing someone as an S.O.B. is beneath the dignity of your office.

And you, athletes, slinging slurs at the President of the United States doesn't accomplish anything either.

Please, can't we all get back to a measure of civility in this country?

The Chicago Bears returned to a measure of NFL football Sunday with a 23-17 overtime victory over the Steelers in Soldier Field.

No game is just a game anymore. It's played in the context of the national anthem controversy swirling around the NFL.

Bears chairman George McCaskey spoke with the team Saturday night, and reports sound like he urged players to stand during the playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner."

Offensive guard Kyle Long said after the game, "We didn't want to show any disrespect toward the military, the flag. But there are obviously issues going on in our country, and I think we did the right thing today. Going forward, just trying to make this place a better world to live in."

The Bears stood during the anthem and locked arms in unity. The Steelers were unified, too, with all but one player remaining inside the tunnel during the anthem and running onto the field afterward.

Around the NFL, some players stood during the anthem. Some knelt. Some sat. Some placed their hands over their hearts. Some locked arms.

Call it unified diversity.

The situation began raging over the weekend after President Trump lashed out at NFL players for what he considers kneeling players disrespecting the national anthem.

Owners, executives and officials around the league responded by condemning Trump's verbal assault on the character of their players.

"I am deeply disappointed by the tone and comments made by the President on Friday," said Patriots owner/Trump friend Robert Kraft.

Athletes in other sports tweeted their disgust with the president. In baseball, A's catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major leaguer to not stand for the anthem.

Look, even if you disagree with players protesting during the national anthem, it's difficult to agree with Trump's manner of confronting the issue.

A better idea would be to invite Colin Kaepernick, who initiated the movement last season, and other outspoken NFL players to the White House.

Not for a photo opportunity like when champions visit but for a candid exchange of sentiments.

Trump could get a better look at their view of social injustice, police brutality and other inequities in America.

Meanwhile, Trump could convey to them why he believes it's disrespectful to not stand during the national anthem.

The President of the United States has a lot occupying his time these days, from North Korea to Iran to health care to tax reform to everything else.

But what's happening on the streets of urban America is important, too.

The purpose of the players' protest is to stimulate dialogue on a serious subject.

The conversation at the White House could include players explaining that they aren't S.O.B.s and the president making a case for why he isn't the racist he's accused of being.

Even if neither changes the other's mind, it would be a lot less disturbing than what transpired over the weekend.

The Bears' victory aside, of course.

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