Lovie Smith defends Brian Urlacher

Updated: December 20, 2012, 2:33 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Coach Lovie Smith defended Brian Urlacher, who criticized Chicago Bears fans for booing the team at Soldier Field on Sunday, saying the star linebacker "cares about the fans."

"We're hopeful we'll have a lot of our fans in Arizona with us cheering us on," Smith said Wednesday as the Bears prepared for Sunday's game against the Cardinals. "Brian and the rest of the guys all feel that way. I think we all know that."

Urlacher said the booing at Soldier Field -- after a 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Bears' fifth in six games -- was "unbelievable," and fellow linebacker Lance Briggs backed him up Tuesday during his weekly show on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

"Nobody, on any team I've ever been on, gets booed more at home than here in Chicago," Briggs said. "And that's also a point to the passion of Chicago fans. Everyone is passionate, but everyone in Chicago doesn't know how to run a football team and doesn't know how to play on a professional football team. It's our job to do that."

Facing two must-win games to have a shot at salvaging a playoff berth after starting the season 7-1, Smith said the Bears have moved on from the frustration of their loss to the Packers.

"We're not living in the past, all right?" Smith said. "... I said I think we all know Brian knows how good the fans are here in Chicago. A lot of frustration after the game. We've moved on from that."

Briggs said Thursday that fans have a right to boo, but players also have a right to be upset.

"Fans pay their ticket to go see a football game, and it's well within their right to boo, cheer, cry, laugh, do whatever feeling comes to them," Briggs said. "As players, we go out, we play and we have every right to be happy, sad, upset ... And with the way social media works now, everyone gets to find out how you feel more often than in years past."

Urlacher, who has played his entire 13-year career in Chicago and will be a free agent after the season, didn't play Sunday because of a hamstring injury. It's possible he will miss the last two regular-season games as well.

During his weekly segment Sunday on Fox Chicago, Urlacher was sarcastic when talking about the fans.

"Our crowd was pretty good today for the most part," he said. "They were loud for a minute there. The boos were really loud, which is always nice. The only team in our division to get booed at home is us. It's unbelievable to me."

Urlacher was asked whether the issue is discussed internally.

"It's not going to change," he said. "If we talk about it, then the media says, 'You're blaming the fans for losing. You're doing this. You're blaming the refs for losing.' We lost that football game. Every football game we play in, we lose, it's nobody's fault but ours, but we're allowed to say what we want."

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