|08-12-2007, 04:05 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Against the odds, Broncos' Rod Smith has found ways to succeed
ENGLEWOOD -- Rod Smith smiled and sort of tilted his head toward the ground.
The Denver Broncos wide receiver lowered his voice the way you do when you’re not sure how your next disclosure will be received.
“You know what man, I was tellin’ some dudes this, and they were laughing at me,” Smith said, still smiling, almost laughing at his thoughts. “But I’m tellin’ you, it’s real though. Seriously, man. I’m going to get a life coach.”
A life coach?
“Yeah man, a life coach,” Smith said, louder now, his voice more confident, more determined. “I’ve got a coach for my money, a financial adviser to help me with my money. I’ve got a coach for my sport. So, if some aspect of your life needs help, why not get a coach?
“There are still some things that I’m missing out on. There’s some happiness out there that I’m not getting, and I’ve got to find a way to get it. Trust me, I’ve got a lot of good things going on, but I don’t think I’m even scratching the surface of where I could be. I don’t know if they’re in the Yellow Pages or on Google. But I’m going to find a good one.”
One might think these are things thought about while recovering from a possible career-ending hip surgery, that these are the things one thinks about when he’s not on the field actively engaging in practice.
But this is Rod Smith. He thinks about this type of stuff all the time.
Smith is different. He’s the type of person who can make you think you know everything about him from one conversation. Then the next time you talk with him, you’re trying to figure out who nabbed Smith and slipped into his skin.
Smith is a definite for the Broncos’ Ring of Fame, and he’ll receive a lot of consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yet there was Smith walking through the Broncos practice field wearing a gray T-shirt with “UNDRAFTED FOOTBALL” silk-screened in bold blue letters.
Smith revels in his undrafted status, as well he should. There are few, if any, undrafted players in the NFL who can boast Smith’s accomplishments — 849 receptions, 11,389 yards, 68 touchdown receptions and two Super Bowl rings.
Those numbers are good for anybody, not just a rookie free agent from a Division II university.
Smith’s body sometimes makes his career look like it’s ending. He turned 37 in May. And football is a sport that punishes you for having too many birthdays. A hip injury slowed him to 52 receptions last year, ending a streak of consecutive seasons with at least 70 catches at nine.
Offseason hip surgery has Smith limping around, looking like the “old man” that some of his teammates affectionately call him. Though he’s not conceding — as if UNDRAFTED FOOTBALL would concede — Smith’s rehabilitation might make him miss the season opener. He could even miss a few games.
“With this type of business, this type of industry, you’ve got to come in with that process of the end in mind,” Smith said. “We all have an idea of how we want it to end and how we want to be set for the rest of our lives. But a lot of us don’t get that choice.
“Overcoming this challenge for me doesn’t mean I have to get back out there on the football field and catch 100 passes. My thing is getting my body back in shape to be able to go out and play with my kids. Now, I do want to get back on the field, too. And I feel that I have enough ability to be able to do it. It’s just a matter of getting these few repairs taken care of, then moving forward.”
For Smith, today’s training is easier than yesterday’s, and he hopes it’s worse than tomorrow’s.
Until healthy, Smith does more coaching than anything. From the undrafted players to starter Javon Walker, Smith is there for questions and guidance.
“You’re competing with him for a position,” second-year receiver Domenik Hixon said. “But he’s willing to sit down with you and teach you what’s right and wrong. That’s a phenomenal person.”
Hixon’s statements are no surprise. No Broncos player since No. 7 has earned as much respect from the team.
“This situation is nothing new to me,” Smith said. “It’s frustrating sometimes. But man, I’m here. Statistics said I should’ve been gone a long time ago. Dude, look, I’ve already won. I didn’t grow up with a thing, and I’m still here. I’ve won.”
But there’s still some happiness for Smith to get. And some of it, undoubtedly, is on the football field.
|08-12-2007, 04:18 AM||#2|
Join Date: Jul 2006
Every new piece of news I hear about Smith makes it seem more and more like he's going to hang them up.