Although the Monsters of the Midway are involved in an intense week of practice leading up to their game Sunday against the Vikings in Minnesota, several players paused in the locker room Wednesday to consider what they will be celebrating at Thanksgiving dinner this year.
That being said, it's business as usual Thursday for the Bears, as the team is still scheduled to practice in preparation for their NFC North rivals.
For Kevin Payne, what he appreciates is very basic.
“Just having the opportunity to breathe and to be alive," the third-year safety said, "that’s the first thing that comes to my mind. Just think of the people who never woke up at all this morning. Every day I am here on this earth, I consider it a blessing.”
Fellow safety Al Afalava views friends and family as the most important aspects of life around the holidays.
“I have two wonderful children, ages three years and eight months," the rookie sixth rounder said. "No experience is better than that of being a parent. It’s something I really enjoy. I am definitely looking forward to spending the holiday with the kids, as well as with some of my friends. We’ll get together after practice, eat some turkey and probably watch football on TV.”
Kahlil Bell, who just made a name for himself Sunday with a 72-yard effort on his first career carry, thinks back to those who have gone before him.
“I take the day to remember my relatives, my ancestors," said the rookie running back. "Without them, I certainly would not be here. Some I hold in my memory, and those who are still here with me, I thank every day for helping me achieve the wonderful opportunity I’ve found here with this team.”
Like many people in this country during trying economic times, Devin Aromashodu is just grateful to be employed.
WR Rashied Davis
Getty Images: Jeff Gross
“There are many others who are not as fortunate as I am," said the 6-2, 200-pound pass catcher. "You read every day about the number of people just looking for any kind of work. Not only do I have a job, but I get to do something I love every day. There is nothing better as a career than football, and to be here in the NFL is an amazing blessing.”
It’s a family affair for Rashied Davis, a time he looks forward to spending with his wife and 15-month-old daughter.
”I am grateful for the chance to help my little girl build her memories," said Davis, a wide receiver and special-teams ace. "All might not go perfectly Thanksgiving Day, but it's something we’ll remember anyway. I can tell her years from now, 'Remember when we burned the turkey?' I am thankful on a daily basis to have a warm and loving family. And, like Devin, I never take the fact that I have a job for granted.”
Enjoying his two children and having the chance to reconnect with long lost family members will make this Thanksgiving memorable for Kevin Shaffer.
“When I joined the team, I found that I had relatives living in the Chicago area," the reserve offensive tackle said. "I’d heard about them years ago but had never made contact. They can meet my kids and me, and I can learn all about their lives. This will be a wonderful experience for all of us to get together and become reacquainted.
"I also want to say that I am very thankful to have been brought to this team. I love the city, and I really enjoy the fans. It’s a great opportunity.”
From all of us here at Bear Report, we hope you and your family enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving and a festive holiday season.
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Beth Gorr has been covering the Chicago Bears for eight years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.