McCaskey: New policy returns anthem to 'unifying force'

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey applauded NFL players for their social activism, but he stressed on Thursday that he expects players who take the field during the national anthem to stand.

"There is no easy answer to the anthem issue," McCaskey said as Chicago wrapped up its mandatory minicamp.

"No one is entirely right, nor entirely wrong. The policy change enacted a couple of weeks ago by NFL teams, including the Bears, isn’t perfect. But we think it will return the anthem to what it should be -- a unifying force -- while providing an option to those players and other team personnel who choose not to stand."

Added McCaskey: "We think players should stand. We encourage our players to stand."

NFL owners passed a new league policy for the 2018 season that gives players the option of remaining in the locker room during the anthem. The league can fine individual teams if players on the field do not stand for the anthem.

McCaskey said the Bears haven’t determined yet how they’d punish players who violate the policy.

"I’ve talked with [Bears president and CEO] Ted Phillips about it," McCaskey said. "I’ve talked to [Bears NFLPA rep] Sam Acho about that. We haven’t made a decision on that. I want to give that some thought and talk to them more about that."

Several members of the Bears locked arms last season when the national anthem was played on game day, but no Chicago players took a knee in silent protest.