One of the top players in Chicago football history doesn’t know what his former team is doing, and he can trace it all back to the time the Bears fired Lovie Smith, who went 10-6 the year he was fired.
Brian Urlacher, one of the greatest linebackers of all-time and certainly one of the top players in Chicago history, retired from the NFL in 2012, the year Smith was fired after nearly 10 years and a Super Bowl appearance with the Bears. Sure, his team didn’t make the playoffs in 2012, but they still put together a pretty good 10-6 record and even finished the season on a two-game win streak. The 11-5 Green Bay Packers — led by Aaron Rodgers — were the cream of the NFC North Division that season, though, and 10-6 Minnesota made the wildcard led by league MVP Adrian Peterson.
It was a tough year for the Bears in a very tough conference, and even though Smith had an 81-63 overall record in Chicago, the Bears decided it was time for a new face leading the way.
That was a decision that Urlacher obviously didn’t agree with, according to what he had to say on Tiki and Terry, as transcribed by CBS Sports. In fact, he believes that Chicago’s lack of football luck since then has been a direct result of the fact that the organization fired Smith.
I like to say it’s the Lovie Curse – because since he left, (the Bears have struggled),” Urlacher said. “He got fired being 10-6. I think they fire him either way. Even if we go to the playoffs, I think they fire him. I don’t think the GM liked the way he coached the football team. The guy’s a winner. I love playing for him.
Back when Urlacher played for the Bears, you always knew your team was in for a fight when Chicago game up on the schedule. He was the centerpiece of one of the best defenses in football, year in, and year out, and even offensively, the Bears had a tendency to live up to the black and blue nature of the NFC North.
Nowadays? Urlacher seems to be unable to recognize his former club.
I don’t know what the identity of that team is. They sign (Mike) Glennon, then they draft a kid No. 2 – I don’t know what (they’re doing). It’s confusing.
Urlacher was referencing former North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, whom the Bears drafted No. 2 overall, and it’s worth noting that he did have good things to say about the former Tar Heel. He also wasn’t completely down on his former team:
I hope this kid is unbelievable,” Urlacher said. “I hope Mitch Trubisky is the best quarterback of all time. He looks like a stud. He’s 6-2, 6-3, put together, good-looking kid, he seems really nice – I hope they do really well. Their defense is going to be good this year. They were good last year and they had so many young guys play that it’s only going to help them this year.
Still, it’s well worth noting that a franchise icon seems a bit perplexed on the direction the team has taken since he, and his former head coach, have left.
In 13 NFL seasons, all with Chicago, Urlacher notched 1,040 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 15 fumbles recovered, 22 interceptions and four defensive touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl eight times and was a four-time All-Pro.
Chicago has gone 8-8, 5-11, 6-10 and 3-13 since Smith was let go. He went on to coach two seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccanneers, going 8-24, and he’s now head coach of the Illinois Fighting Illini.