Fred Smoot spke candidly after talking to students at a school in Jackson, MS.
On his mouth: “You know what my best talent could be?” Smoot asked the kids. “It could be my mouth right now. It could be my mouth. Because I will never stop talking. You could break my leg, my arm, put me in a wheelchair….I always knew I wanted to be an athlete. But I also knew i wanted to run my mouth and talk about sports, and that’s my next profession. That ain’t my only thing. I got plenty more things planned.”
On the Redskins: After the speech, reporters asked him about the new Redskins.
“Man, I think the Shanahan regime is great,” Smoot said, even though that regime cost him his job. “And then for the first time up there, Dan Snyder is letting the guys, the football guys handle the business. He has a great front office up there, and I think they’re putting the pieces in line.
“Though I hate to see a lot of people come and a lot of people go, but you know, that’s part of the NFL. That’s just the way things go. And I think Donovan is gonna really have a good effect up there. I think he gonna love it, because unlike Philly, he’s got a city that loves the Redskins, that loves him, and he has a chance to sit back and try to win his championship ring.”
On inspiration: Smoot’s address to the kids included a not-atypical observation that if he were arrested, the news would make ESPN, while no speech to kids ever would. So in honor of his cynicism, here’s part of his address. You can watch the full thing below.
“I’m coming to talk to y’all not as Fred Smoot the football player, but Fred Smoot the person. So you can call me Frederick Smoot, that’s the legal name my momma gave me, and Fred became the show name….
“I think the role models we set out there to let [kids] look at is wrong. And I’m one of those guys, I’m an athlete, but the truth about being an athlete is, out of 20 million people, 1 percent of us is gonna play professional sports. Football, basketball, baseball, whatever that may be. Everybody can’t aim for that same job, everybody can’t be that same person.
“But along that way, you can be something that really matters: a counselor, a doctor, a teacher, somebody’s that’s changing somebody’s life, somebody that’s being different, somebody that touches and feels people every day….
“I tell my wife all the time, I just thank God for having the best temp job in the world, and that’s being a professional athlete, because it’s temporary. Do you know who I’m afraid of? I’m afraid of these young guys that’s sitting out here, on this bench, because they’re hunting for my job. I’m not getting any younger. I’m 31-years old.
“And now the kids that just got drafted this year, I probably talked to one of those kids in another state, years ago, while he was a 10th grader. And now he has somebody else’s job. That’s the way it goes. Out with the old, in with the new. So tell me, why would you want to be in a job market that only allows you to play long as your body blesses you to play that game? Why not be a doctor? You can be that for the rest of your life, while you come in and out of your house, giving your kids somebody positive to look to, somebody positive to look up to….
“H had the luxury of going to Washington, D.C. when I left here. Now that’s a big turnaround, from Mississippi to Washington D.C. So I heard, you country? I heard, you slow? But I heard this also: you’re a great person. They love Bret Favre right now, because he’s a great person. And we’re built to last. And we can endure anything. But the enduring time is over. It’s 2010. It’s the century where a man can be whatever a man wants to be. The problem is, everybody says they want something, they don’t even have a plan. They don’t even have a plan. Take five minutes out of your life, sit down and write it on a piece of paper….
“You’ve got to be not the cool guy for a while, and I don’t understand why that’s not cool [to study]. Why it ain’t cool to succeed. It’s cool to stay around here and do the same thing? That ain’t cool. Because I’ve got friends that still haven’t saw outside of Jackson, Mississippi, and I think that ain’t cool. Because I saw the world, and now I get to come back and tell them about it. I want for them to see it. I want for them to see it for themselves. So if we’re gonna change, it’s gonna start with y’all.”