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September 28, 2011

Lovie Smith: Decision to let Rivera go was not personal

Lovie Smith was not in a reflective mood Wednesday during a conference call with Charlotte reporters.

Smith, whose Bears team faces the Panthers on Sunday, made it clear he was not thrilled about discussing his decisions to part ways with Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and tight end Greg Olsen – who coached with and played for Smith in Chicago, respectively.

Asked to talk about the trade that sent Olsen to Carolina for a third-round pick at the start of training camp, Smith said: “I'd rather not.”

He went on to say Olsen was “a force” when he was with the Bears, as well as “good guy in the locker room and the community.”

Olsen, who is off to a good start with the Panthers, said he never asked out of Chicago, which had de-emphasized the role of the tight ends in Mike Martz's passing offense.

Smith seemed to indicate Olsen's blocking ability was at least part of the reason the Bears moved him.

“Tight end's a big part of what we do. … It's just not always pass-catching,” Smith said. “There's a lot of things we ask our tight end to do. We have a tight end on the field most of the time, I'll say that.”

Rivera was not Smith's first choice as defensive coordinator when he arrived in Chicago in 2004. Smith wanted to hire Rod Marinelli, but Tampa Bay would not let him out of his contract.

So the Bears front office encouraged Smith to bring in Rivera, who played his entire nine-year career with the organization. Rivera was the coordinator for three years, including in 2006 when the Bears went to the Super Bowl.

But Smith chose not to renew Rivera's contract after the Super Bowl season. Instead, he promoted Bob Babich, and Rivera was hired as a linebackers coach in San Diego.

When a reporter asked Smith about not retaining Rivera, Smith said: “I'll tell you, we're really living in the past today.”

“Ron Rivera did a great job for us when he was here,” Smith added. “Each year, you as a head coach decide on what direction you're going forward. That's what I decided. I went in a different direction there.

“No more than that – nothing personal. I wasn't disappointed in the job he did here. It's worked out for both of us.”

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on September 28, 2011 at 02:47 PM | Permalink


I wish they had let Lovie go and kept Ron

Posted by: Todd Isaacs | Sep 28, 2011 3:49:09 PM

Well now, it appears there might be more of a personal vendetta than orginally thought. They're both 1-2..Gross will not be intimidated by Peppers...come on home 2-2 Panthers!!

Posted by: wolfpackpanther | Sep 28, 2011 4:18:48 PM

Rivera must be loving this. Nothing to lose, everything to gain against his former team and former boss. Rivera must be stoking his players about this game.

Posted by: Section 516 | Sep 28, 2011 4:22:25 PM

Well, I hope that when Ron goes "home" Sunday,he will show Lovie just what he missed out on !

Posted by: nasty 704 | Sep 28, 2011 4:22:33 PM

Ya know THAT'S right, Wolfpack !!!

Posted by: nasty 704 | Sep 28, 2011 4:23:29 PM

You can hear the terse nature of Smith's comments, even on the tone-deaf blog. There is obviously something there that Smith isn't letting on about, both with Rivera and Olsen. These guys are all professionals and don't need "bulletin board material" to get motivated, but the apparent disrespect from Smith should add just a little mustard to this burger. Here's hoping Rivera and Olsen get the same revenge Peppers got last year.

Posted by: J | Sep 28, 2011 4:25:45 PM

I'm glad Lovie let Rivera go because I like what he and his staff have done to prepare a Carolina Panthers team in a shorten offseason to at this point a very competitive team. We could have done without the Lovie Smith interview because his opinion means nothing here.

Gross you better knock Julius Peppers head off.

Posted by: Rent Doctor | Sep 28, 2011 4:53:10 PM

Anyone who sees my post on here know that I never talk bad about the opposing team. But something about what he said pisses me off. I dont know what it is but I hope the Panthers beat their arse. Its not just in the blog. Even hearing him talk it comes out like it was the best decision he ever made. I want to ask Mr. Smith what has his team did without these guys? They lucked up on some wins last year but do they think they will have the same success this year? Panthers players please beat the hell out of these guys. I dont even want a close game I want a blow out. If not for me or yourself do it for Rivera and Olsen.

Posted by: cboss01 | Sep 28, 2011 5:01:08 PM

Smith needed a scape goat after the Super Bowl loss - he replaced both the DC and OC from that team... I doubt it was personal at all - just that a change needed to be made to satisfy fans and the owners. That Bear team was so close... But they moved away from Ortin to Grossman at QB (i might be off here but going by memory..) and then got rolled in the Super Bowl. Bottom line is they won a lot of games that year with Ortin as the QB doing almost nothing... Defense was real strong and there were lots of teams interviewing Ron for a HC job. Maybe Lovie thought he was leaving and decided to find a new DC he new was going to stay around.

Posted by: Dirt | Sep 28, 2011 5:04:10 PM

I like Rivera a lot . He is an awesome coach, and is/was a great DC with the Bears, and a GREAT Player! I think people are reading way to much into what Smith has said now and in the past. Smith knew that Rivera was going to be picked up as a Coach and knew keeping him was doubtful. I think at the time the SB ended he was being looked at in California in San Fran as the HC, but they picked up someone else, and then later hired Singletary in the middle of the year. Everyone who followed FB new Rivera was going to be a coach somewhere, and I for one (as a Bears fan) hope he has a wonderful career as a coach in Carolina, he really is a stand up guy! Olsen is a great Receiver and a terrible blocker, and did not fit into Martz Offense. I would have still kept him on the team, cause he catching better then anyone on the team right now (LOL); Our Loss, Carolina's gain.

Posted by: T. Cook | Sep 28, 2011 5:46:05 PM

Lovie is over-rated as a coach. He traded away the only slam-dunk draft pick he could lay claim to. Other key players were either already there or acquired in free agency. He absolutely needed scape-goats after that SB debacle. My money says Lovie will be unemployed after this season.

Posted by: superlucchic | Sep 28, 2011 6:14:22 PM

I didn't detect any disrespect in Lovie's remarks. He said he just wanted to move on and not live in the past. Some of us find that to be a difficult task. Things have worked out well for Rivera and Olsen. It's good to have them both in Charlotte.

Posted by: Chuck | Sep 28, 2011 6:17:24 PM

I didn't detect any disrespect in Lovie's remarks. He said he just wanted to move on and not live in the past. Some of us find that to be a difficult task. Things have worked out well for Rivera and Olsen. It's good to have them both in Charlotte.

Posted by: Chuck | Sep 28, 2011 6:17:24 PM

Lovie? What a name for a man. Go Panthers.

Posted by: bigmoneyjake | Sep 28, 2011 6:18:44 PM

Lovie hasn't always been a man. It was that darn island...

Posted by: Thurston Howell,III | Sep 28, 2011 7:39:03 PM

go kick some Bear ass coach!

Posted by: bull123 | Sep 28, 2011 8:14:30 PM

Go PANTHERS from Shanghia China!!!

Posted by: Louis | Sep 29, 2011 1:02:31 AM

Rivera was a reject even at Chicago. Maybe thats why he is so high on another reject named Newton who was rejected at Florida for felony theft and multiple cheating everyone despises.
Criminals like this in the NFL are destroying what was left of any integrity in the sport. Its a slippery slope.

Posted by: mike | Sep 29, 2011 7:02:23 AM

This would be a huge win for the Panthers if they can pull it off. They need to start fast and get that Chicago D on their heels. If they can do that and our defense comes to play, I could see us coming out with a win.

Posted by: Curry | Sep 29, 2011 9:00:29 AM

I didn't read any disrespect in coach Smith's comments about Rivera. I think he might be regreting not resigning Rivera. You can't fault the man for wishing for a do over. Hind sight is 20/20. As for Olsen, just be glad he's here.

Posted by: steve222 | Sep 29, 2011 9:24:53 AM

Mike, I assume that's why he coached so many top 10 defenses? That's what rejects do? Cam admitted his mistake about the laptop - I assume you NEVER did anything illegal when you were 18. You are a hateful, angry, country bumpkin hating the fact that the Panthers have a Latino head coach and a black star QB.

Posted by: Chris | Sep 29, 2011 11:55:36 AM

Well said Chris

Posted by: Pantherfan1221 | Sep 29, 2011 4:50:46 PM

Mike. Youre a fool. I guess having the #1 defense in Chicago and San Diego means Rivera is a reject. Being a part of the 85 Bears (one of the best teams EVER) makes him a reject. You must be an Alabama fan or something to still hate Newton for something that happened 4 yrs ago and no one really even talks about anymore. Newton is obviously more prepared to be the star than anyone expected. Why dont you flip the channel to NASCAR or something....

Posted by: Dez | Sep 30, 2011 3:16:29 PM

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