- (Photo: AP / David J. Phillip)
The NFL's Chicago Bears' head coach Lovie Smith has been fired after nine years with the team, it was announced Monday, Dec. 30.
Smith failed to lead the Bears to the playoffs this season, despite winning their final game on Sunday. The Bears had looked certain to make the postseason early on in the season but a mid-to-late- season slump saw them drop out of the playoff reckonings. They ended the season with a reasonable 10-6 record, but it wasn't enough to get them through. The Bears now have not been to playoffs in five of the last six seasons.
Team chairman George McCaskey said in July that Bears' General Manager Phil Emery, hired in January 2012, accepted that Smith would be coach for the team in 2012, but in 2013 the head coach role could be filled by someone else.
"Lovie has said there's pressure every year to win. That's just a fact of life in the NFL," McCaskey said in July, according to ESPN.
"We told Phil when he came in that Lovie had to be the coach in 2012. He accepted that condition. We also told him that he would have the freedom to make a change if he thought it was necessary after 2012," McCaskey added.
The Bears had spoken on the possibility of missing the playoffs earlier this year. "It'll be a major disappointment because we brought this on ourselves," Tim Jennings, cornerback for the Bears, said prior to their fate being sealed in missing the playoffs, according to ESPN.
The Bears' win on Sunday had given them hope of making the playoffs, but the Minnesota Vikings last second victory over the Green Bay Packers 37-34 saw the Vikings go through instead of Chicago.
Smith led the Bears to Super Bowl XLI, where they lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 29-17.