Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Chris Conte spent the first four years of his career with the Chicago Bears. And, well, it wasn’t always an enjoyable experience.
Some of that was Conte’s own doing – in the 2013 regular-season finale, he was caught flat-footed and gave up the game-winning touchdown against the hated Green Bay Packers, a loss that cost the Bears the NFC North title and playoff berth.
A 2011 third-round pick out of Cal, Conte was a favorite whipping boy for Bears fans during his time with the team, and not all of the criticism – and worse – he received was warranted.
So on Sunday, when Conte, now in his second season with the Buccaneers, opened scoring in Tampa Bay’s 36-10 deconstruction of the Bears with a 20-yard interception return touchdown off former teammate Jay Cutler – the first touchdown of his career – he enjoyed it.
Like really, really enjoyed it.
“I hate to make it personal, but for me it is personal,” Conte told Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune. “It feels great. I don’t want to say, ‘(Expletive) you, Chicago.’ But, I want to say, ‘(Expletive) you, Chicago.'”
Cutler’s pass was intended for tight end Logan Paulsen, but the quarterback was under pressure and falling backward as he let the ball go. Conte read the entire play, jumped in front of Paulsen, and saw nothing but open turf in front of him, spreading his arms wide and leaping over the goal line.
“That was a gift,” he said. “I don’t think [Cutler] really saw me. He had pressure in his face.”
Conte heard it from all over when he was with the Bears, torn down by fans and media alike; at one point, the hate he received through Twitter was so bad, he deleted his account.
As he went to the sideline, Conte and Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter hugged, but Conte accidentally head-butted his coach, opening a gash above Koetter’s eye. Koetter sported a bandage in his postgame press conference, joking with reporters, “Man, Chris Conte acts like he’s never scored a touchdown before.”
Conte hadn’t scored an NFL touchdown before, but the first one felt so good.