Mike Ditka was in this position before.
Five years removed from being the Bears’ most successful coach in the Super Bowl era and unceremoniously released, Ditka was pacing the Soldier Field sideline coaching against his old team. The 1-4 Saints rallied to defeat the Bears 20-17 that day in 1997.
John Fox will be in a similar position on Sunday when the Bears (4-5) face the Broncos (7-2), a team with which he won four division titles and took to a Super Bowl.
Will Fox prepare any differently or put something extra into it?
“You’re not preparing to beat their staff or organization, you’re preparing to beat their team,” Ditka said. “He’s going to do the same things he’s been doing to get these guys ready to play. If you said it didn’t mean a little bit more, it probably does. I can’t really remember in my case if it meant more.
“Listen, I had a great career with the Bears; he had a great career with Denver. I don’t think you dwell on those things. Right now, the Bears have a pretty darn good football team and they’re going in the right direction. I don’t think you want to get distracted by ‘oh, well this coach got let go …’ No, it’s not about revenge. It’s about going out there and winning a football game and keeping pace with the Vikings and Packers.”