MIAMI - Lovie Smith's first day as coach of the Chicago Bears brought a big smile to his face and a Texas-sized promise to those who hired him, even to those who didn't know him.
First, he vowed to beat the archrival Green Bay Packers. That was a real crowd pleaser. Then he turned his sights on something greater.
“I will do everything possible to bring back the pride, tradition and excellence of the glory days of past great Bear teams,” Smith said on that January day just more than three years ago. “We want to win a world championship. Just like our '85 Bears, led by a great coach that I deeply admire, Mike Ditka.”
Ditka was as fierce prowling the sidelines as he was catching passes over the middle during his playing days as one of the NFL's most rugged tight ends. Snarling at times and often showing his emotion openly, he coached the Bears to their only Super Bowl where they overwhelmed New England 46-10. He'll always be Da Coach.
Now Smith is one victory away from making good on his promise to reclaim the NFL title for the storied franchise. And he's doing it with a style that is very unDitka-like - he's hardly confrontational, very low-key, doesn't holler or yell.