BR Rookie Diary: Joe Anderson

Chicago rookie wide receiver Joe Anderson talks about his first season in the NFL and reacts to the firing of former Bears head coach Lovie Smith.

Chicago Bears wide receiver Joseph Anderson came into training camp this season as an undrafted free agent. He earned a spot on the practice squad and was elevated to the active roster three weeks ago after a number of NFL teams took notice of his abilities.

In a special teams role, Anderson was outstanding, making a number of big plays under coordinator Dave Toub. Yet, like many of his teammates, Anderson's future in Chicago is unclear after the club fired head coach Lovie Smith this morning.

Bear Report goes one-on-one with Anderson, who talks about his rookie season and reacts to Smith's firing.

"I've never felt such a wide range of emotions in such a short period of time. First we won the game yesterday, which is exactly what we needed to do. The bus ride to the airport in Detroit was crazy. The guys were all so happy.

"Once we got on the plane, the mood changed somewhat. Our pilot kept giving us updates on the Green Bay game. Those Packers weren't bringing it to the Vikings as much as we hoped they would.

"Then we arrived at O'Hare. I think that was around the time the Packers tied it up, so we were happy again. Then the Vikings scored and it was over. The silence among us was amazing.

"Looking at it from the perspective of a day, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. If we'd won against Minnesota like we were supposed to, then this would have never been an issue. I think a situation like this is much worse when you look back and realize you could have avoided it completely.

"Looking around the locker room, all I see today are a few guys putting their stuff in garbage bags. Nobody's packing very carefully, we just want to get this done and head home. It's very quiet. Few of the players are talking to each other as we usually do. So often the noise level in here is deafening with guys just fooling around. Everything is different now. There's just not much left to say.

"When we got here today we were met at the door and told to go into a meeting room. I'd been listening to the sports radio on the way in so I had a good idea what was going on. We went in and there was Coach Smith. It was an emotional time for him and for all of us, really.

"He didn't seem bitter, just sad, as we all were. He thanked us and wished us good luck in our professional careers and in our lives off the field. That was the kind of a man, the kind of a coach, he was. He never regarded us as only his players. He viewed the whole person and that was important to all of us.

"From what I've heard around here since that meeting ended, Coach Smith might be the first of many coaches and assistants to be leaving. It's hard to get much information now but I'm sure that will come later today. What effect that will have on our roster is difficult to say until we know what direction the team's heading.

"It's a sad day here, a difficult day, as this is what we all believe to be a premature end to our season. Add to that the loss of your coach and it's pretty bad all around. But we have to go on and we will.

"It was wonderful to have the chance to get out there against Detroit. I got in some good plays, things I'd been hoping to do. When I'm in a game all the training just seems to kick in. I can go without thinking too much about it. That's the best thing to happen as a player. It means you've learned enough to work on instinct.

"I view myself as an underdog. I always have since I got here. I come from a small town, I went to a small school, I was not drafted. To make up for that I've worked harder than anybody, I believe. I want to be noticed. I want to be a star in this league and I know the only way to achieve that is through hard work.

"It's been a difficult year but an interesting one. I've watched the best players in the business. Most of them have become my mentors. I've been on the sidelines and in games and have absorbed everything I could along the way.

"I have a strong work ethic and don't plan on taking any time off. Then we're back here at Halas Hall in the spring. This isn't the time in my career for me to sit around. I have a conditioning program in place and I'll continue with that as usual.

"I have priorities. My son is nine months old now and he notices things. I want him to be proud of me, to see me conduct myself like a man. For me, it's all about football or about my son. I don't do anything else. I don't have hobbies. I don't even watch TV. I go to work, I come home, I study, I play with my child. That's about it.

"My hope is that this dedication will pay off in the coming years. I'd love to look into the future and see my son coming to a game where everybody is wearing my jersey. I'd like my name to be known beyond this locker room. It's about much more than talent. It's about dedication. I'm willing to work to make this dream come true."

Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.

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