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Lovie Smith Reacts To Death Of Former Chicago Bears Chairman

A closeup of Illinois football coach Lovie Smith.

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 11: Head coach Lovie Smith of the Illinois Fighting Illini is seen during the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium on November 11, 2017 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The passing of former Chicago Bears chairman Michael McCaskey has led to mourning throughout the NFL. One of McCaskey's greatest hires, former head coach Lovie Smith, responded to the passing of his former boss today.

Taking to Twitter, Smith expressed his condolences to the McCaskey family and his thanks for the opportunity he was given. He revealed that it was a chance meeting with McCaskey when he was still an assistant with the Buccaneers that preceded his hire.

"Five years before I became the HC of the Bears, I attended an NFL Symposium to help minority assistants become head coaches," Smith wrote. "I was blessed to randomly sit at the same table as Michael."

He went on to explain that he wrote McCaskey a thank-you letter after the symposium. Several years later, McCaskey hired him as the new head coach following a strong stint as the Rams defensive coordinator.

Smith also revealed that McCaskey kept the letter and showed it to him.

Smith rewarded McCaskey with an 81-63 record that included three NFC North titles - only Mike Ditka has more since the AFL-NFL merger. But perhaps his greatest accomplishment was returning the George Halas Trophy to Chicago in 2006.

After going 13-3 that season, the Bears won the NFC Championship Game to reach their first Super Bowl since 1985. But they would lose to the Indianapolis Colts, and make the playoffs just once more in the next six years.

Despite the difficult way his tenure in Chicago ended, it's clear that Smith still has tremendous respect for the Bears that gave him his big break.