By Earl Bennett
In 2012, we needed to win the season’s final game, and we needed the Packers to defeat the Vikings to get into the playoffs. The latter did not happen so we were eliminated from playoff contention. After landing back in Chicago and finding out the results, Coach Lovie Smith addressed the team and stated we would have exit physicals in the morning.
I arrived at the facility in the morning and entered the cafeteria where most players were gathered. I ordered my usual pancakes and bacon and found myself a table. ESPN lit up every TV. So, when a player says, “I don’t listen to the media,” they may not directly listen, but indirectly it is hard to miss what is reported. Nevertheless, as we watched ESPN the ticker at the bottom made every heart in the cafeteria drop.
The text read “Lovie Smith Fired.” Every face in the place expressed confusion as the commotion began to spread through the cafe, with many players expressing their disbelief. Some guys began to cry. Thoughts of job security along with a cloud of uncertainty covered the building.
After breakfast, Coach Smith addressed the team one last time. Never had I seen a man so gracious and uplifting after being fired. He handled it with dignity and his character never wavered.
However, I feel that he should have been able to address the team and let us know of the situation rather than us seeing it scroll across the ESPN screen. After a 10-6 season and barely missing the playoffs, that was the least they could have done. Despite that, being the class act he is, Coach Smith handled it with grace and humility.
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