Bears’ coach Lovie Smith said he would be more concerned about how the lockout is impacting his team’s offseason preparations if he didn’t have an established coaching staff and veteran players.
“It’s very important,” Smith said. “We do have a veteran group, a lot of great leaders. The lockout or whatever you want to call it is hurting a lot of the teams that are just getting started but we have a veteran staff and a veteran team. It’s not like we have to be out telling the guys what they need to be doing. They are professionals. They know we will eventually have a season and they need to be ready to go once we’re told it’s time to go back to work. We feel pretty good about that.”
Smith and other Bears officials were at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines on Tuesday to present defensive tackle Anthony Adams with the Ed Block Courage Award. The award is named after the former head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts and is intended to raise awareness and prevent child abuse. The award is given to a player on every team — as voted on by his teammates — who exemplifies sportsmanship and courage.
“It’s an award that exemplifies courage and loyalty, great sense of humor, all those things that I guess I have, so it’s an honor to get nominated as an Ed Block Courage Award winner,” Adams said.
Several Bears’ players typically attend the ceremony. Because of the NFL lockout, however, Adams was the only current player on hand for Tuesday’s festivities.
“It’s difficult because they’re like family so it’s like separating the family,” Adams said of not having any contact with coaches. “I don’t know. I got a lot of calls the day before the lockout, we tried to get everything out that we possibly could before the lockout. It’s a shame that we have to go through something like this, something that could have been resolved two years ago.”
Coaches aren’t allowed to have contact with players during the labor impasse. Smith said it hasn’t been a big deal yet because he doesn’t typically talk to players much this time of year. It will start feeling more strange soon, however. The Bears typically start there offseason conditioning program at Halas Hall around this time.
“You can be cordial with the guys,” Smith said. “Even though we’re close we’re not spending a whole lot of time together in the offseason. This is the time for them to get away. This is normally about the time we would be getting started. I’m still hopeful that eventually they tell us we can go back to work and we can pick up where we left off.”
Adams is an unrestricted free agent, which means where he’ll play next season remains up in the air until the lockout ends, although he said he prefers to remain in Chicago.
“I love it here,” he said. “I love the fans, my kids were born here and it’s been great. It’s been fun for me, and I’ve got great teammates, great coaches; no egos, it just seems like we all get along, we all play jokes on each other. We all get along and we all come out and support one another in different foundations or whatever it is. I love it here.”
While having no contact with coaches and not working out at the team’s practice facility may not be a major obstacle for veterans, it’s a different story for younger players, which is why Adams said veterans are trying to lend a hand.
“It’s difficult [for them],” Adams said. “You don’t know what to do, nobody’s telling you what to do so you’re kind of out on your own, and you feel like you’re alone in this situation but I always give my phone number to everyone to call me if they want to. Other guys in their respective positions [do the same], so if the wide receivers are feeling some type of way, they can call Rashied [Davis], or defensive linemen they can call myself.”