People ask me all the time if I like Lovie Smith, and my answer generally depends on the previous game’s outcome. I used to really love him, but after the cringe-inducing eras of Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron, I think it’s safe to say the entire city of Chicago was going to be enamored with any new hire. Now, we all know there is only one Coach in town that has had any kind of lasting relevance. You don’t have to live in the 606 to know that Ditka wears the big-boy pants here where coaches are concerned. But we embraced the man with kind of a girlie name, and convinced ourselves he’d be a comparative success.
Lovie Smith is an interesting character. And when I say interesting, I mean he’s a total bore. His demeanor has literally never changed during his tenure, from his initial press conference back in ‘04, announcing with the whimsy of an accountant that his main goal was to beat the Packers. I mean, come on, what Bears fan wouldn’t love that? I remember thinking that would have been a great time for a fist-pump or perhaps a vocal inflection of earnest resolve. Well, not even a resounding throat-clearing did we get, but nonetheless, I liked this Lovie guy.
It was easy to be impressed early on. He had success immediately, bringing the Bears to the Super Bowl in three years. There may have been a brief lifting of the outer corners of his mouth when we beat the Saints in the NFC Championship that year, but that’s pure speculation. After being steamrolled by the Peyton Manning Machine in Super Bowl XLI, the collective depression of my bedraggled city was only compounded by Lovie’s familiar attitude after the game and in the subsequent weeks. Here’s the thing though, people tend to confuse stoicism with apathy
The year after a Super Bowl loss is usually tough for any team, and unfortunately the Bears were no different. We had fired our defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and it showed. The utter misery of the Rex Grossman/Kyle Orton quarterback controversy was starting to set in. A fan can only take so much, and when that happens, there are only a small handful of people you can blame. And as was the case with many Bears fans, I blamed Lovie.
The Super Bowl is a distant memory now, and with the ups and downs of the last few years, my feelings fluctuate week to week, sometimes even quarter to quarter. If you asked me today if I like Lovie Smith, I’d say yes, with a hopeful “he’s got a year to prove himself to new management.” I’m going to try reserve further judgment until the 2012 season starts, which is the logical thing to do, but I’m an emotional person so you never know. Ask me tomorrow.