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 garnered 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 signed with the Seattle Seahawks, where he finished his career in 1995.
After football, Steve was 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 fought nobly and courageously with his wife steadfast by his side. (Lou Geherig himself lasted only two years after the initial diagnosis, but Steve fought it for almost 20 years.) Many of his friends and former teammates came to his aid over the years, such as DJ Dozier, Howie Long and Shane Conlan.
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 focus of an episode of “Real Sports” on HBO documenting his life and daily struggle.
While Steve welcomed letters, donations, and words of encouragement, he had been unable to physically sign for many years. It is safe to assume that his wife had been ghost signing for him since at least 2010- if not further back.
Games 128 Att 429 Yds 1627 Avg 3.8 Td 9 Lg 21 |
Rec 131 Yds 1250 Avg 9.5 Td 13 Lg 45
UPDATE 11/20/21- Steve passed away today after a lengthy battle with Lou Geherig’s Disease. He is survived by his wife and two children.