The legacy that is Will Smith will always be recognized as phenomenal. Like few players in NFL history, Smith made positive impacts both on and off the field in New Orleans. Whether it was Smith’s upbeat character lifting athlete’s spirits when they needed it most, or his passion and focus applying pressure for the Saints during the Super Bowl, Will Smith basically did it all.
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Will Smith played and played well for Ohio State before being drafted by the New Orleans Saints with the 18th pick of the 2004 NFL Draft. In his 139 game career, Smith recorded 459 tackles (326 solo), 67.5 sacks, 25 passes defended against, 20 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, and, to top it all off, a safety. During his career, besides his role in the Saints first Super Bowl, Smith attended one Pro Bowl during his career in 2006. He also led Ohio State to the BCS National Championship in 2002, and was named a first team All-American in 2003.
Now granted, Smith’s legacy is from the impacts he made on the field. But achievements don’t show on both sides of the coin. For instance, at the very minimum, Smith averaged 3 sacks every season while playing in New Orleans on top of averaging at least 35 tackles per season. This is just one of the many examples of how Will Smith provided for the Saints on the field.
But when it came to needing a voice for the Saints defense, Will Smith Brought even more to the table.
Whether or not it was the locker room in between games, or simply off the field, Will Smith was the ‘light at the end of the tunnel” for the Saints when the team needed it most. Smith was here, to not only make an impact on the field in terms of generating sacks, or applying most needed pressure on the line, he was also able to silence the doubt, lift the general spirits and just overall be that consensus leader for the Saints defense.
Smith was born in Queens New York. He and his sister were raised by his grandmother, Nancy Smith, in Utica, New York. His grandmother raised him to be a committed, focused young man who played sports. But she also raised him a sweetheart who had his head on straight.
I personally must give thanks to Will Smith, because he’s the reason to this day why my family are Saints fans.
My grandmother who lives in Little Falls, only miles away from Utica, New York followed Smith’s career very closely as he drew positive attention to himself growing up. I remember to this day my grandmother calling my father, telling him all about this local kid getting praise form just about everyone for his football skills. Up here in Central New York, (where I live), it’s pretty rare to have a local kid make it big for his town, and it personally intrigued my family so we decided we would follow this kid, Will Smith’s career. My family followed his career through college (Ohio State), and up to the point where he was drafted by the Saints, which was the team we’d ultimately become a fan of because of Smith.
The next Saint I take a look at was arguably the best quarterback before Drew Brees.