View Full Version : Q & A with Aaron Smith

05-17-2009, 06:33 PM
The Aaron Smith You Never Knew: A Real Q&A With Steelers DE Aaron Smith

JC: Aaron tell me about your Super Bowl experience.

Aaron: It was unbelievable. Honestly the stress on that level is so far beyond anything. You know, I tell people, itís like working your entire life for a chance at something, and then realizing this might be the only opportunity you have to get it. So I mean, I was so focused.

JC: You were telling me a similar story about the days leading up to Super Bowl XL.

Aaron: Yeah (laughs). My wife was pregnant at the time with our third child. So we go to Detroit and she flies up early that week so we have some time together. Well, I was so focused like a deer in the headlights, I feel bad man. I mean, I hardly even talked to my wife those 3 or 4 days up there. (laughs) And uh, so then we go and play the game, we win, and we wind up driving back with my wife and my kids, and Iím talking to her, and sheís like man, itís so good to have you back. Sheís like this last week when we were alone, you hardly talked to me, I thought we were going to have to get counseling. (laughs) Iím like, I didnít even realize it, you know, cause I was so focused on the moment. And uh I felt so bad for my wife. So it was a good moment, but it was also probably one of my lower moments as a husband.

JC: Aaron I am sure your life has changed since winning two Super Bowls.

Aaron: Yeah

JC: Before that most people knew you as an All-Pro Defensive End for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but not a lot of fans know your story prior to finding success in the NFL. What was life like for you growing up?

Aaron: I grew up the youngest of four boys. Um, my father was a construction worker. Uh my mom was a nurse. Early on in my life my father didnít work much, you know, it was kind of seasonal, in and out, up until he got sick with diabetes, and then he was really unemployed. At that point it seemed to kind of change him as a man.

JC: How did he change?

Aaron: I think a lot of us, men in todayís society; we put so much stock in what we do for a living as what we are as men. And uh I think that he lost his identity. As far as he was concerned, he wasnít Ėin his eyes; maybe he wasnít thinking he was really a man.

He became kind of angry and violent toward a lot of us. Uh and then it was to a point where a lot of times Iíd go to bed at night, um, scared, you know, of what he was going to do. So I would tell him I loved him just in case he did something that night. Heíd think I was the last one who loved him and might notómight not kill me that night or whatever else.

JC: When did the situation finally turn around?

Aaron: My mom finally said Iím going to leave your dad. My oldest brother was gone, so she told him to come get all the firearms and stuff out of the house. Then she told us Iím going to take you kids out, but I got to tell your dad. So she told him. And he took it well. I mean, I think that was the work of the Lord right there for him to handle it as well as he did.

JC: Did things ever get better with your father?

Aaron: I was around 11 or 12 when we left. When I was 16, my father passed away. And it was unfortunate because I still had a lot of anger and resentment built up towards him. Actually the last time I saw my father, um, he stood up to give me a hug at my grandfatherís house and I walked straight past him. I didnít even acknowledge him. And a couple months later he passed away. My mom came to school and told me, and I had to drive home and thatóthat was a hard moment in my life.

JC: Thatís a lot to deal with for a young man. How did you get through that time in your life?

Aaron: Things got worse before they got better. From that point on, I really struggled. I figured what was the point of living? What was the point of even trying? Weíre all going to die, you know. I was really angry with God. Um, for giving me the father I had. You know, Iíd go to the basketball courts and see fathers playing ball with their sons, or seeing men doing things with their sons, and meanwhile here I am with the father that I had that didnít even want to do anything with me. And uh, I was ĖI was pretty bitter about it. Almost to the point of self-destruction.

I was pretty fortunate though. I had some strong, moral Christian men in my life as coaches. They really took an interest in me and they kind of pulled me up out of the gutter a little bit, enough to get me off to college, cause I wasnít even trying to go to college at that point.

So I went to college, and life was a lot better. I met my wife, had a good college career and in í99 I was drafted by the Steelers.

JC: Thatís funny man because from what I remember you didnít even want to play football.

Aaron: (laughs) I wanted to be the next Michael Jordan. Basketball is my first love and I was playing basketball, and the football coach said you know, youíre a pretty good athlete. Why donít you come play football? So I went out my freshman year and played football and got moved up to varsity.

I quit when December came, cause thatís when hoops season starts. I said Iím done, Iím gonna play hoops. And theyíre like whatís wrong, why are you doing this? And then my sophomore year I didnít even play football. I said Iím going to concentrate on basketball.

They talked me into playing again my junior year, I made All-State, and then my senior year the colleges came around. And I went to a small division II school. I was only 205 pounds when I got there.

JC: At Northern Colorado?

Aaron: Yeah, playing defensive end at 205 lbs (laughs).

JC: Bro, I played Linebacker in college at 215! (laugh) I know you were in the weight room from day one.

Aaron: Yeah, I think I slept in the weight room one night (laughs). I ended up red-shirting my freshmen year. So I played a long time in college. By the end of my fifth year I was 6í5Ē/298.

JC: Getting drafted seemed like it took that long too didnít it?

Aaron: You know thatís an interesting story too. Here I am, Iím Ėthink Iím going to be a first day, draft pick. And uh, you know, the Pittsburgh Steelers called me on the first day in the 3rd round. And theyíre like you know, Aaron, weíre going to see, whether weíre going to go offense or defense. And uh so Iím sitting on the phone, and theyíre like all right, weíll call you right back and hang up the phone.

This is the last pick in the 3rd round. And next thing I know I see the scroll on ESPNóPittsburgh Steelers draft Amos Zereoue, Running Back, West Virginia. I was crushed. I mean that was another moment I cried. I mean I cried. I was distraught.

JC: So you feel like the Steelers left you high and dry, and you have to sleep on it until the following day. Then during the fourth round the phone rings again.

Aaron: Well the next day they (Steelers) called me, they said weíre going to take you. Iím like Iíll believe it when I see it. You know, and uh they draft me, and then, you know, I was ecstatic.

JC: You ended up being drafted by the Steelers. In 11 years you have been to the Pro Bowl and won two Super Bowls. What has the experience been like for you?

Aaron: Unbelievable. I mean, working for the Steelers and the Rooneys, is like no other place. I mean they treat you as a person. In some places they treat you like youíre property, like youíre just an investment. They treat you as a person first and foremost here. The give you the ability to express yourself and your faith, um, and do it in an environment thatís comfortable for everybody else, I canít say enough.

JC: How much does being a Pittsburgh Steeler mean to you?

Aaron: I will retire a Steeler. When theyíre done with me here, I will retire a Steeler. Thatís how much respect I have for this organization.

JC: Last question. Looking back on everything, what do you think of the way things have ended up?

Aaron: Now that I am grown up, I know the Lord had a plan. I wouldn't change anything now. You know, where I'm at, who I am, it's made me who I am. You don't see that at the time, but in the end it's all worth it.


05-17-2009, 07:57 PM
First class and a real gentleman, a credit to the NFL.

05-17-2009, 08:24 PM
Wow, I guess he used to be an outside speed rusher! That's gotta suck to go from that to eating double teams so other guys make plays... kinda like going from being a star running back to playing guard and making holes for someone else.

05-17-2009, 08:59 PM
Aaron Smith is another that could be mentioned as "Role model" in todays world of sports. What a solid.. solid Dude... and great player also.
Hope his son is doing better ....

05-17-2009, 09:57 PM
This is pretty old i think

The Duke
05-17-2009, 11:53 PM
This is pretty old i think

by Jonathan Cyprowski (Contributor) 1 202 reads May 17, 2009

Published about 9 hours ago


Great interview . I just love how how they don't ask him about his son. I know he's willing to talk about it, but if he doesn't bring it up it's better they leave alone

kudos to the media (for once)

and kudos to aaron for being such a class act :hatsoff:

05-18-2009, 12:05 AM
1st class guy all the way!:helmet:

Galax Steeler
05-18-2009, 03:24 AM
Real classy guy I am glad he is a steeler.

05-18-2009, 07:50 AM
I think he just became my favorite steeler!