JERSEY CITY, N.J. – This is not Sherman Smith’s first Super Bowl experience. But it is his first trip to the NFL championship game with the team he played for and now coaches for.
Smith also was a member of the Tennessee Titans’ coaching staff in 1999, when the Titans came up a yard short in their 23-16 loss to the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
But now he’s back at the Super Bowl with the Seahawks, who will meet the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. It was the expansion Seahawks that selected Smith in the second round of the 1976 NFL Draft. It was Smith who helped lead the Seahawks through their infancy by leading the team in rushing during its first four seasons.
So this return trip to the Super Bowl is as special as you can imagine.
“It’s something that I never thought would happen, because playing football was just all I wanted to do. And coaching, I just wanted to coach in high school. But to be able to coach in Seattle, to be able to have a chance to bring a Super Bowl championship back there, it would really be special.”
Just as Smith was as a player, is as a coach and always will be as a person.
When he left the Seahawks as a player after the 1982 season, Smith was the franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 3,429 yards – a mark that was surpassed by the back who replaced him, Curt Warner (6,705). Warner’s record was then surpassed by Chris Warren (6,706), whose mark was surpassed by Shaun Alexander (9,429).
But no one has ever completely replaced Smith in the hearts and minds of the Seahawks’ Day One fans.
The game obviously has changed, but somehow Smith has not. He’s still passionate about the game, and his job – which now entails working with veterans
“The players are bigger, faster, I think better, probably,” Smith said. “But it’s still the love of the game. You play it because you love the game; you love the camaraderie you have with your teammates, the excitement of the fans. So some things haven’t changed. The most important part of the game hasn’t changed – that you’re dealing with people and relationships you develop over the years.”
Smith knows this can’t go on forever, and what better way to cap his career as a player and coach than to become a Super Bowl champion.
“I’ve contemplated this, to come in and be a member of the original Seahawks and then have a chance to be on the coaching staff that brings the Super Bowl championship back to Seattle would probably be a great ending to a career,” he said. “If I decided to retire this year, I would say, ‘Man, that’s the way to do it.’ ”
Retire? “I don’t know, but I’d think about it,” Smith said with a laugh. “I really would.”