NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 08: Athlete Brad Smith attends the Nautica Men's Fall 2013 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Stage at Lincoln Center on February 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)
There hasn’t been an NFL player as versatile as Brad Smith since “Slash,” former Pittsburgh Steeler and 11-year NFL veteran Kordell Stewart. Like Stewart, Smith does it all, and even contributes more via special teams.
During his eight-year career, Smith has scored touchdowns via passing, rushing, receiving, on kick returns and a blocked punt. Plus, he is a beast on special teams, recording 60 special teams tackles in 75 games with the New York Jets.
Recently, I spoke with him about his first season in Buffalo, his preferred position, and his recent stint as an intern/backstage interviewer at Men’s Health magazine.
Bullz-Eye: How did the internship at Men’s Health come about?
Brad Smith: It was cool. Eddie my publicist hooked me up with the fashion and style department. I got to meet the fashion editor, get to know him, what he does and kind of how the whole staff works.
BE: Do you have any interest in fashion beyond football?
Brad Smith: I do have an appreciation for fashion, like most guys I prefer to look nice and dress debonair. However, I wanted to go behind the scenes understand the true essence behind fashion, the clothes, the designers, the concepts, the shoes and everything that encompasses it to what is seen during fashion week. Most importantly, I wanted to see how designers and companies put the shows together, how different media companies help shape the image of certain companies to what we see on stage for that brief period of time.
BE: Did you get any tips for your own personal wardrobe?
Brad Smith: Yeah man. Just watching and listening to all the people that eat, sleep and drink fashion and drink style, you pick up some great knowledge to take home. You got some people who are extreme and willing to take huge fashion risks because some people would think that their wearing crazy stuff. But on another extreme there are those who are fashion savvy pushing the boundaries and starting trends. Me personally, I prefer to be right in the middle.
BE: Since you’ve been in the league, we’ve seen an evolution where a QB who can run, like a Russell Wilson type, has become really valuable. Why do you think that’s happened now and what started the shift since you got into the league?
Brad Smith: I think there’s always been this type of player in the league, it’s not new- you’ve always had guys like Fran Tarkenton, Steve Young, Randall Cunningham and other guys like that who have had a lot of success. Players like that are hard to find and I think that’s a big part of it where colleges are going to the zone read- that’s not all that these guys can do. You can be multi-dimensional and people start saying, “hey they have to defend this, and then this.” Then, their running back gets more yards in the hole because they’re worried about this. It’s all about scheme, man.
BE: In your pro career, you’ve been used in a myriad of ways — wide receiver, quarterback, kick return, running back, special teams — is there a way that you visualize yourself as a player?
Brad Smith: It’s been crazy experience going on eight years now- because it’s always something new. First, I come in, work at receiver for a few plays, then I go to running back, coach calls a few plays, did that. Then go to quarterback and work on those plays. Then I will hear the coach say, “Hey can you return kicks?” So, I tried that. Then its special teams tackling and blocking. So I just got an appreciation for the entire game but just want to make sure I help the team. There’s no play that doesn’t matter- every play matters. I don’t know how to look at it any other way than that I’m just a football player who wants to win and get a Super Bowl championship.
BE: One thing I don’t like as a fan are the new kick return rules; it’s taken a lot of fun out of kick returns. How do you feel about that?
Brad Smith: I feel the same way. It’s definitely added a drag to the game. About half the time now the ball is going out of the end zone and if it doesn’t most teams don’t bring it out deep. You’ve got a lot of teams that do bring it out. You’re going to see more and more teams just taking a chance and bringing it out.
BE: Does that enter your mind when you’re fielding a kick? “Okay, I’m seven yards deep,” Or do you look at the blocking in front of you and how successful it is?
Brad Smith: The way we do it in Buffalo, he (special teams coach) gives us certain yards where we have to, “if it’s deeper than this you stay in. But if it’s not, you can bring it out.” It was tough at times because you want to make a play and bring it out every time. But coach didn’t want you to do it, so you just put the team first.
BE: With the Jets, you had a 108-yard kickoff return for a TD, the longest in franchise history. What do you get more exhilaration out of: that or a 32-yard scamper for a TD?
Brad Smith: It doesn’t matter to me .(laughs) If it’s running, blocking a kick, it doesn’t matter. What matters to me is, did I do something to help my team win?
BE: Do you want to play QB more?
Brad Smith: I’m always a quarterback first — it’s what I’ve done my whole life. And I have fun doing it, but I’ve done all kinds of stuff. Whatever they ask me to do is what I’m going to do. That’s how I look at it man. Whatever I can do to help the team win is what I will do.
BE: With the Jets you were there from the transition between Eric Mangini to Rex Ryan. What was that like?
Brad Smith: It was a good transition. The support group they have there is unbelievable, from the training staff to the strength staff at the time, they all made it a smooth transition. Coach Mangini, I learned stuff I still use to prepare for games to this day from coach Mangini. He was one of the most detail-oriented coaches I’ve ever been around. Rex gets you to play and let it loose 100%, so you don’t have to think — I picked that up from Rex. We’ll see how it goes with coach Marrone.
Brad started a charity for boys and girls in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio called The Brad Smith True Foundation. Check out the website here (http://truefoundation16.org/). and give him a “Like” on Facebook and Twitter.
Tags: Brad Smith, Brad Smith Buffalo Bills, Brad Smith Foundation, Brad Smith New York Jets, Brad Smith NFL, Brad Smith Quarterback, Brad Smith True Foundation, Brad Smith University Of Missouri, Buffalo Bills, Doug Marrone, Eric Mangini, Kordell Stewart, Kordell Stewart Pittsburgh Steelers, men's health, Men's Health Magazine, Rex Ryan