It has been over nine years since the Chicago Bears fired Lovie Smith, and suffice it to say one of his former players still isn’t happy about the way it went down.
Smith coached the Bears from 2004 to 2012, leading Chicago to to an 81-63 record under his direction with a trip to the Super Bowl. But Jerry Angelo was fired as general manager in 2011 after 10 years, and his replacement, Phil Emery, gave Smith one year before firing him after a 10-6 campaign in which the Bears missed the postseason.
Years later, that firing still irks franchise legend Brian Urlacher.
“I didn’t like the way they handled it,” Urlacher said during an appearance on the “Bussin’ with the Boys” podcast. “They fired our GM the year before, and honestly how the f–k do you fire Lovie after you go 10-6? You fire Lovie after we go 10-6, we didn’t make the playoffs. Minnesota decides to beat Green Bay on the last game of the year and they hadn’t beaten Green Bay in like five years.
"They beat Green Bay, knocked us out of the playoffs, and then they fired Lovie and I was like what the f–k are y’all doing? And then they didn’t win 10 games like the next seven years, after Lovie left they had a hard time winning games.
“It’s just like, why fire the guy? And I know why they fired him, because the new GM was a weirdo and he didn’t like winning, so he fired Lovie. … It’s frustrating because obviously I love that franchise, so it’s frustrating to see the direction it went after they fired Lovie."
That proved to be a franchise-altering offseason, as none of Smith’s replacements to this day have been able to replicate or improve upon his results in Chicago -- the lone exception being a 12-4 2018 season under Matt Nagy. Urlacher ended up retiring that offseason, and Emery only made it two more seasons at the helm before he was out.
Smith now is getting another head coaching opportunity, as the Houston Texans tabbed him as David Culley’s replacement this offseason.
Urlacher isn’t holding ill-will towards the organization, but it’s clear he might not ever get over how they handled things with Smith.