Alabama’s Smith ruining his new career

By Bart Doan  |   Tuesday, February 24, 2009  |  Comments( 3 )

Alabama Crimson Tide
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Remember when you got your first job? Here are a few things you probably didn’t do as you went to countless interviews looking to land the perfect gig: 1. Violate rules before being hired; 2. Not show up for interviews; 3. When asked about not showing up, give the excuse that you didn't feel like it.

Former Alabama offensive lineman and possible first overall draft pick Andre Smith did all of the above in his first dealings with the NFL at the scouting combine.

When it comes to incoming rookies, this has to be the most staggering case of self-absorption the NFL has seen in recent memory. Smith’s case is baffling, to say the least, and his problems date all the way back to his last game with Alabama. If you remember correctly, Smith was the All-America offensive tackle whom coach Nick Saban suspended for his club's Sugar Bowl loss to Utah, in which pass protection was clearly an issue. Shortly thereafter, head coach Saban dismissed Smith from the team entirely, citing rules violations.

Smith was rumored, against both NFL and NCAA rules, to have been contacted by a player agent representative and refused to turn over any phone records to verify that all of it was fabricated. At that point, it was clear Smith had sold out his teammates and coaches because of his tunnel vision regarding playing for pay at the next level.

All of this makes his recent actions odd. At the combine in Indianapolis last week, he completely neglected to show up for measurements and workouts. When finally found and prodded about the issue, Smith's excuse was that he had started training late and was basically out of shape. Come again? Why bother making the trip if you’re admittedly out of shape as it is? Like many other prospects, he could have just stayed home and worked out privately. Besides, that type of auditioning for the NFL has become commonplace. No one would have thought a thing.

It only gets more unfathomable when you realize that Smith isn't a run-of-the-mill prospect. Rather, he is rated as the best offensive lineman on the board and a key piece for the the Detroit Lions, who have the first choice and have expressed interest in him. After last year’s miraculous turnaround that saw Miami eschew the traditional positions when taking O-tackle Jake Long No. 1, there was reason to believe that this draft's Long could have been Smith. In the end, the lackadaisical effort on his part could cost him upward of $10 million.

No matter how much a player seems to bend the rules or break the law, the NFL will find a place for him if he has the talent. Smith clearly does. The question with him, though, is: Why is he willing to sabotage himself and his future? It has gotten to a point where Smith’s situation over the last six months is downright sad -- much more even than that of the winless team that may have picked him No. 1.
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About Bart Doan

Bart has been with Realfootball365.com for about six months and thoroughly enjoys writing for the site. He has been featured for his writings on college football in The Sporting News, The Indianapolis Star, Sports Illustrated, and on CBS Sportsline.com. When he's not drowning himself in the...
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