Smith, Steve “Rhino”

Card: Skybox 1992
Acquired: In Person 1993, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp

As a big fan of the sport, I literally carry every card of every player I can find to camp. On occasion I’m asked, “Why do you have that guy’s card?” I was asked that exact question before I got Steve’s autograph back in 1993 at Cowboys training camp. There’s a few reasons why I do that, but the most prevalent is I love the sport, and by getting a player’s autograph I am honoring my memory of the sport with them. In a way players I get the autographs of are my signed draft choices. Some are future prospects, or have a special place already in my mind, or some like Steve Smith, have a purpose or a need to educate us after their playing days are over.

Initially at Penn State, Smith was a runningback but because of his tenacious blocking and depth at the position, he was converted to fullback where he played the remainder of his career in football and was the team captain of their National Champion Team in 1986. (Not expecting to be drafted, Steve was in the shower when the Raiders came a calling in the 3rd round of the 1987 draft with fullbacks being a dime a dozen.) Despite his initial impressions Steve would see a significant role in the offense as not only a blocker but a short yardage back and receiver. He would garner the nickname ‘Rhino’ from his teammates, and scored 3 touchdowns in 1988. In 1989 he’d meet a Raider cheerleader, that Steve would eventually marry. After playing with the Raiders for 7 seasons, Steve would sign with the Seattle Seahawks, where he finished his career in 1995.

After football, Steve has been struck with what he hoped initially was Lyme disease (when he started suffering symptoms in 2002,) but over the years has been unfortunately ALS, or Lou Geherig’s Disease.  Steve has fought nobly and courageously with his wife steadfast by his side. (Lou Geherig himself lasted only two years after the initial diagnosis, but Steve has fought it now for over 8 years.) Many of his friends and former teammates have come to his aid such as DJ Dozier, Howie Long and Shane Conlan; However, his monthly bills have been rumored to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000. Steve now speaks through a state of the art computer that types based on eye movement and is unable to receive food orally or breathe without a ventilator. Players have begun to work together to raise fund for Steve’s assistance. To help please go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jcdvq9R3rRk&feature=related

Steve Smith was once quoted as stating that “God has a purpose that has brought me to this point,” and perhaps it is to educate us about the increasing proof that ALS could be linked to concussions, as Steve was a recent focus of an episode of  “Real Sports” on HBO documenting his life and daily struggle.  The NFL recently has taken a much more aggressive approach towards concussions after 14 NFL players were diagnosed with the disease including another NFL fullback Kevin Turner. The league has ‘considered’ financial assistance to those players afflicted with the ALS but has yet to enact it.

Games 128   Att 429     Yds 1627    Avg 3.8     Td 9    Lg  21   |   Rec 131   Yds 1250    Avg 9.5    Td 13    Lg 45