The Top 10 CNY Sports Stories EVER! – Will Smith
"In West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playground is where I spent most of my days..." Nope, this isn't about the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Instead, this pigskin prince by the same name was born in Queens, raised in Utica and spent most of his days on the gridiron.
While attending Proctor High School, Will Smith quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the defensive line and became the bane of quarterbacks with almost two-dozen sacks in his senior year and was considered the best defensive line prospect in the state. Apparently Ohio State thought this was nifty as did the New Orleans Saints, so much so that they ended up nabbing him in the 1st round of the 2004 draft!
From his rookie season to present Smith wouldn't make the Saints regret their decision at all, racking up nearly 400 tackles and 61.5 sacks so far. He also played his first Pro Bowl just a couple of years into his tenure with the Saints and stands now as one of the premier defensive ends right now in the NFL (and the 3rd highest paid one in the league).
Despite all of his glory, the now 31-year-old has recently found himself mired in a serious scandal involving defensive players who were given non-NFL sanctioned bonuses by their defensive coach for purposely injuring opposing players in an effort to take them out of the game. Both the defensive coach and head coach of the Saints have now been suspended for at least the enitre year (an NFL head coach has never been suspended before for any reason), while Will Smith and three other players have only been suspended for the first handful of games this season.
I'm still including this Super Bowl Champion in our series because I believe in the power of redemption and also considering the fact that the NFL didn't punish him all that severely. His career was glowing up until this controversy and I believe it will continue to flourish once he returns to the football field next month with a clean slate.