Lovie Smith knows how he’ll be remembered in Chicago — he learned as much last year, when he stayed at his Lake Forest home, recharging and waiting for his next NFL coaching gig.
Sunday will have little effect on that, he said Wednesday. When he takes the field as the Buccaneers’ coach, he’ll be simply another visiting boss. He doesn’t expect a reaction from Bears fans one way or the other.
“I’m remembered there,” he said. “As I come in Sunday, I’m coming in as an opposing coach. That’s how I’m looking at it. The year I had off and just being in Chicago for nine years, I don’t need anything validated this week. …
“I realize I was in Chicago for a long time. I have special memories there. So I’m sure there will be a little of that. But as far as the game is concerned, once we tee it off, it’s another game that we’re trying to win.”
Smith said he was “proud of everything we were able to do” during his Bears tenure from 2004-12, when he went 81-63 and played in the Super Bowl.
“I loved my time there,” he said. “I loved the organization that I worked for and the opportunity that they gave me. But as much as anything, the players that I got a chance to lead and to coach. The lifetime memories, the lifetime relationships that I was able to form from being there — of course that’s what will stay with me forever.”
He called his opportunity to be a first-year coach in Chicago a “dream come true.”
“Everything that you thought, was kinda how it turned out being for me,” he said. “To come to a storied franchise with a great fan base and to just help to bring that fan base and what was expected, back.
“The things you dream about, that’s how it really turned out for me. I enjoyed every day I came to work and the people I had a chance to work with. Not only the players, of course, but the staff and the administration too.
“Again, your first job — I’m sure everyone would hope that your first job would be something like my first job.”