Focus on: Sherman Smith

Posted Jan 30, 2014

From being the Seahawks’ original running back, to coaching the Seahawks’ running backs in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday, Sherman Smith has created an everlasting legacy because of the way he has done both jobs.

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.

“You go back to thinking about 1976, coming to Seattle to be a member of the original team and where this team has gone in all those years,” Smith, now 59 and completing his 19th season as a NFL assistant coach, said Wednesday during the team’s media session at The Westin Jersey City. “And now to be back at the Super Bowl and to have a chance to bring a Super Bowl championship back to Seattle, and to be a part of that as a coach is a dream come true.

“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.

After coaching at Redmond High School; his alma mater, Miami of Ohio (1990-91); and the University of Illinois (1992-94), he became the Titans’ running backs coach in 1995 and also was the assistant head coach in 2006-07. When Jim Zorn, the Seahawks’ original quarterback, was hired to coach the Washington Redskins in 2008, he hired Smith to be his offensive coordinator. Smith returned to Seattle in 2010 as member of Pete Carroll’s first staff.

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 Marshawn Lynch and Michael Robinson, and also molding and mentoring Robert Turbin, Derrick Coleman and Christine Michael.

“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.”