(670 The Score) Black Monday brought the 2017 Bears together one final time at Halas Hall with coach John Fox, who was fired early that morning in a move that was expected.
Fox addressed his players one final time before parting ways with the Bears in what was described by most in the room as an emotional farewell. That was certainly the case for defensive end Akiem Hicks, who had developed a strong relationship with Fox during his two years in Chicago.
"It was a tough feeling," Hicks said in an interview with Brian Hanley and David Haugh on 670 The Score on Wednesday morning. "The end of a time for our team and the players in the locker room being used to Coach Fox up there leading our meetings and leading us as a team. It's going to be a little bit of a transition and just a tough feeling – tougher than I've ever experienced as far as my time in the NFL. I've never seen this side of the business that way. It's just the way it rolls.
"One of the toughest things that I've experienced. That is one of the things I respect about coach Fox, is that he's done it at a high level, he's taken teams that were in the dumps and brought them to a championship level. He's built team, he's built men. That's one of the things that made coach Fox who he was."
The Bears coaching staff remains intact until a new head coach is identified, though an overhaul of most of Fox's staff is widely expected.
Among the coaches who could return after this transition is defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who also earned a tremendous respect from his players. Bears general manager Ryan Pace wouldn't comment Monday whether he would interview Fangio for the position. Count Hicks among those wishing for Fangio's return next season.
"I hope that he's here, but you don't have any control either way," Hicks said. "What you do is you put your best foot forward and make sure you're a part of the transition."
Hicks spoke highly of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who will reportedly be interviewed by the Bears, along with the team's defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, who will be interviewed by the Lions and Giants in the coming weeks.
However, Hicks won't pay too much attention into the world of speculation surrounding the coaching search. He understands why an offensive-minded coach may best suit the Bears, who are looking to further develop 23-year-old quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears have requested to interview Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards.
For Hicks, there's one quality in a coach more important than all the rest.
"That's probably one of the most important aspects of coaching, is holding the respect of your men, holding the respect of the people that you're coaching," he said. "If your team doesn't respect you, your team won't follow you. You got to be a guy that's revered.
"One of those things that really helps that is having proven it somewhere else, been in that position and being able to show yourself being successful. It's easier for a coach that has done it at a high level and been successful to earn the respect of his players than it is a guy fresh to that area."
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