Akiem Hicks, Former Saints Focus on Win Not Revenge

Akiem Hicks says he and several other former New Orleans players will be playing with their usual high emotion with no animosity
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It might be professional football but this doesn't mean players perform only for the paycheck.

They have feelings, too.

The Bears host the New Orleans Saints and have a handful of former Saints players on the roster who have some emotions of varying degrees built up toward their former team.

"If you love football you definitely got to get fired up for a team that released you when you get a chance to," Bears defensive lineman Mario Edwards said. 'It's definitely one of the games that I saw on the schedule that I'm looking forward to."

Edwards, fellow defensive linemen Akiem Hicks and John Jenkins, tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. are all former Saints.

In Hicks' case, the feelings from long in the past seemed to go very deep. He'd spoken about it before, but now says something he saw early this season on social media softened him a bit on vendettas of any sort.

"I'll tell you the truth there, it's always an important game, but I would say this: There was an instance about six or seven weeks ago, I don't know how many weeks ago, actually, I was on Instagram and I saw them highlight Marques Colston's highlights, and it just brought back so many fond memories of my time spent there," Hicks said. "And it pulled me away from my usual animosity of that jersey color.

"I started to remember just how much the game means to you, and the fellowship and the bond that you make with players over the years, one of those being a friend that I have there currently in Cam Jordan."

Hicks was third-round pick in 2012 by the Saints and in the final year of his contract New Orleans first demoted him to backup and then traded him to New England for tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, who made 17 catches in two seasons for them. Hicks finished his Patriots season and then signed with the Bears in free agency.

"You know, you don't lose those types of relationships and overall they make it a positive experience," Hicks said. "Do I appreciate how I was cast aside? How I was told that I wasn't good enough to play in this league or that I wasn’t good enough to play for that team? No, I don't appreciate those things. You never forget, but you can't carry hate in your heart. You know what I'm saying?

"I would also say that, man, you just appreciate those moments. I wouldn't say it loses its luster. You still want to be competitive, and you still want to play a great game. But at the end of the day you have to remember that this game isn't just about me. This game is about my team, my season and what we're planning to do for our future. So you got to put some of those things to the side and remember there's a bigger picture."

Graham was unavailable this week to media but Hicks said the two have similar feelings about facing the Saints.

"Very similar to what I just talked about," he said. 'We just want to play the game. We wanna play the game of football, and not make it about ourselves or about this feeling of like I said, animosity or hatred towards a situation that we had to deal with because that's the business side of football, and there are going to be people in all walks of life that tell you that you're not good enough.

"Your job is to not just prove them wrong but prove to yourself that you're capable of doing the things that you want to do. So I would say this: Me and Jimmy, we’re ready to play football just like we always are. We’re both going to be passionate. We're both going to be aggressive. That's just our style of play."

Somehow, it all sounds like it will still mean plenty to all of the former Saints.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven