(CBS) – Add Mike Ditka to the list of people who feel Lovie Smith should not have been fired by the Bears.
Ditka, who steered the Monsters of the Midway to a Super Bowl victory in 1986, says he thinks Smith was a great successor and a “good man” who will land on his feet.
“You find out as you get through life if you’re a coach there’s a good chance some day you might be fired, and there’s no loyalty,” Ditka said during an interview at his namesake Chicago restaurant Monday night with CBS 2’s Mike Parker. “You know – what have you done for me lately? And that’s the way it is.”
The Bears organization fired Smith Monday after nine seasons when Chicago once again failed to make the playoffs. Chicago won its final game of the 2012 season against the Detroit Lions Sunday but was reliant on a Green Bay Packers win over the Minnesota Vikings to qualify as a wild card team.
Green Bay lost.
In measured comments, Ditka said the Bears organization is free to hire and fire its coaches (he himself got the ax in 1993).
“The people who own the ball and bat – they’ve got a right to call the game. So, if they want to fire someone, they fire them,” Ditka said.
Still, he said Smith’s dismissal was “ridiculous” and expressed concern for Lovie and his assistants because their lives will be uprooted.
“Sometimes some of these things don’t make sense. It doesn’t’ make sense to me, but then again, that’s just me. I’ve been through it. I understood more in my situation,” Ditka said.
Ditka famously said upon his own firing, “This too shall pass,” and he went on to become a successful businessman, pitchman and NFL commentator. Does he have any advice for Smith?
“Lovie’ll do all right,” he said. “There’ll be another opportunity for him if he wants to do it again.”