CHICAGO -- Every player from the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons stood together, gripping the football field-sized American flag before Sunday’s game alongside an assortment of firemen, policemen and first responders from the 9/11 attacks, as the teams honored the victims with a special ceremony.
Jim Cornelison sang a rousing national anthem, and fans in the stands chanted, “U-S-A, U-S-A” while waving mini American flags.
The moving scene of patriotism at Soldier Field was one several players said they’ll always remember.
“This being a special Sunday to play football, I talked to the team last night about how this will be a game they remember for the rest of their lives,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “With everything going on, we just talked about making plays.”
Linebacker Brian Urlacher said the scene from Sunday’s pre-game ceremony “gave me the chills.”
Receiver Roy Williams called the moment, “emotional, and something I’ll always remember,” adding that “winning this game really takes it over the top.”
Despite the loss, Atlanta’s players reflected on the ceremony.
“I was definitely very emotional because I have a step-brother in Afghanistan,” said Falcons safety William Moore. “It’s a very touching thing to me. I talked to him before the game, and asked him what I could do to show my appreciation. He said to just go out and play.”