Maybe not for the reasons one might think, considering he is an NFL coach of a very popular team in one of the largest cities in the good ole’ US of A. Sure, there is that important fact that he coached the Bears to a Super Bowl, and he won the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year Award and there are some pretty decent stats attached to his tenure thus far with the Bears. But no, that’s not what impresses me.
The first time Mr. Smith got my attention was while I was driving to work on a Monday morning (my 30 minute commute allowed for just-enough radio time), listening to a post-game press conference from the previous day’s Bears game. I’m not even sure if the Bears won or lost—it doesn’t matter to this story.
Coach Smith had only been with the Bears for a year or so; still somewhat unknown, untested and unproven. For the most part, sports reporters are smart, articulate and appreciate the nuances of a good game, thus, are able to ask the excellent questions that engage their audiences. However; on occasion, there might be a reporter or two who asks a REALLY DUMB question. During this particular press conference, Mr. Smith certainly was asked some of those REALLY SMART questions that he expounded on intelligently and with just enough detail that keeps the listener tuned, wanting to hear more. Then of course there were some of the REALLY TOUGH questions. The ones where a coach with less finesse might stumble, avoid or even blow up during his response. Not our Lovie—he answers calmly, deliberately, using excellent vocabulary, not a touch of defensiveness in his voice, not a single inflection that might show he is anything other than calm, cool, collected and extremely well-spoken.
Then what happens when he gets one of those REALLY DUMB questions? The exact same thing! It is amazing that even I, someone who is not a football fanatic, has her jaw drop when a supposedly professional journalist asks a question so stupid that a) the radio station didn’t edit it out and b) that they still have a job. OK, so I can’t remember now what the exact question was but we’ve all heard them. And, we’ve all heard some really bad responses or seen some really bad reactions. But have you seen Coach Smith when he gets one of those ridiculous questions. He is so smooth, so articulate that he actually makes the listener forget about the stupid question and hang on to his every word because he uses the opportunity to say something he wants to get on the table and in a blink, he has avoided a potentially embarrassing situation that could have sidetracked the interview.
Sure, a good PR coach could train almost anyone to react appropriately to bad (and even good) interview questions but this is one coach who needs no coaching.