TAMPA, Fla. – On a conference call with the Tampa Bay media, Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs paid Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith one of the highest compliments you’ll hear in football.
“[Smith is] going to tell you from Day 1, he’s going to treat everybody like a man," Briggs said. “That’s the honest to God truth. When coaches do stuff like that and stay consistent to exactly what they say, you get a lot out of your men. He was a man that you would run through a brick wall for."
“Of course, I’d do the same thing for Lance Briggs and any of my guys that I had there. I cherish the relationships I’ve been able to develop everywhere I’ve been. In Chicago, there were quite a few of those."
That’s to be expected because Smith spent nine seasons as the head coach of the Bears and took the team to a Super Bowl. He was fired after a 10-6 season in 2012. But as questions flowed about his Chicago days Wednesday, Smith said he carries no bitterness.
With the Bucs scheduled to play the Bears on Sunday, Smith was hit with plenty of Chicago talk. Reporters from two Chicago newspapers were present and Smith, at first, tried to down downplay the significance of the matchup.
“We’re trying to get a win against an opponent on the other side," Smith said.
But the questions didn’t stop and Smith eventually opened up about his Chicago experience.
“My memories of my time in Chicago are all great memories," Smith said. “I have lifetime friends from Chicago that will always be a part of our family. You talk about the opportunity I was given by the McCaskey family. Those are all good memories. I don’t have many bad memories on any place I’ve ever been. We spent a lot of time there. We still have homes there. My time there, my wife is from Chicago. There’s nothing but fond memories of that time there. But it’s a part of my past, but a part of my past that I will always cherish."
Smith, whose wife is from Chicago, said he still owns a house in Illinois.
“I have a lot of fond memories," Smith said. “We won a lot of games. That’s what I remember. And the fans there were awesome when we were winning all of those games. That’s my recollection."