Interview by: Angela Betancourt
Introduction by: Phillip D. Johnson
BRADLEY ALEXANDER SMITH (born December 12, 1983) is an American football quarterback/running back/wide receiver/return specialist for the BUFFALO BILLS of the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2006 NFL DRAFT (out of Missouri ) by the NEW YORK JETS. Smith was the 103rd overall selection in the 2006 NFL draft as a Wide Receiver/Running Back/Quarterback in the fourth round and signed with the New York Jets on July 21, 2006. He played for the team until he agreed to a four-year, $15 million contract with the BUFFALO BILLS on July 28, 2011. The Bills have since used him mostly out of wildcat formations, and they have also used him as a wide receiver.
My mother has been the greatest role model in my life. She set so many positive examples for me to follow, especially my faith.
Throughout his career, his career numbers on the field, harking back to high school are phenomenal; but he’s also posting great numbers off the football field as well. He, through his charitable foundation and other organizations, gives back a great deal to his community, has varied interest (including fashion and journalism, see Q&A below). He recently made a special appearance at the TOMMY HILFIGER FALL/WINTER 2013 MEN’S COLLECTION, where “Savile Row Meets Ivy League” as a special guest of the designer. And Mr. Smith, with a clear eye towards his future beyond football, was there to learn at the feet of the design master of American Prep aesthetic.
The collection, rooted in British sartorial tradition, delivers authentic, true-blue American style in spades. In the collection, traditional tailoring is fused with a rock n’ roll irreverence, much in the spirit of the legendary master tailor, Tommy Nutter, the sixties London ‘s go-to tailor who counted THE BEATLES and MICK JAGGER among his clients. The result is a hybrid of heritage and modernity: Tailoring without the stuffy formality. Heritage is updated in new proportions and fabrications as a signature Prince of Wales check and graphic hound’s-tooth are magnified across outerwear silhouettes. A sporty pea coat is cut out of STEIFF fabric; a fish-tail parka is made with Melton-bonded MACKINTOSH cotton. College scarves add a youthful twist to traditional coats and inspire intricate insets that run down the back of outerwear to create an unexpected graphic impact. Similarly, hybrid penny loafer boots and color-blocked brogues add a Sixties Mod touch to the neat silhouette.
This year, Mr. Smith was also nominated for the 2013 BART STARR AWARD**. The award, voted on by NFL players, rewards “outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.” Mr. Smith’s TRUE FOUNDATION works to promote education, discipline, and organized activity for youth in the community. Boys and girls throughout the greater Youngstown ( Ohio ) area and beyond are able to learn new skills, work on properly performing known skills, and work to carry out organized instructions. It’s his way of preparing the next generation of American for an increasingly difficult work and social environment.
The winner of the BART STARR AWARD is voted on by NFL players, is named after NFL Hall of Famer Bart Starr and honors the player who best exemplifies Starr’s commitment to family, teammates and the community. Past winners include LONDON FLETCHER, DREW BREES, KURT WARNER, LADAINIAN TOMLINSON, REGGIE WHITE and MIKE SINGLETARY.
The other nominees were Philadelphia’s NNAMDI ASOMUGHA, Baltimore’s MATT BIRK, Minnesota’s CHAD GREENWAY, Tennessee’s MATT HASSELBECK, San Diego’s PHILIP RIVERS, Jacksonville ‘s JOSH SCOBEE, NY Giants JUSTIN TUCK, Cleveland ‘s JOE THOMAS and Dallas’ JASON WITTEN .
Mr. Smith sat down with L’ETAGE MAGAZINE in early January to reflect on his nomination, his career so far and what lies ahead in his future.
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: Congratulations on being nominated for the NFL’s Bart Starr Award! As you know the award celebrates athletes with outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community. What does it mean to you to be nominated?
BRADLEY SMITH: Wow, being nominated for the Bart Starr Award means a lot! It’s a tremendous honor to be nominated for the award and to be among such a great group of guys. More importantly, it doesn’t just showcase these guys athleticism but it speaks to their character.
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: Bart Starr, is not only a Superbowl MVP, he is considered one of the NFL’s great field leaders and inspiring figures. In interviews he credits his mother and father for the discipline and leadership they instilled in him. Who in your life has been a good role model to you?
BRADLEY SMITH: My mother has been the greatest role model in my life. She set so many positive examples for me to follow, especially my faith.
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: When you were growing up did you envision that you would play professional football?
BRADLEY SMITH: I didn’t. I had fun playing the game but never thought about playing in the NFL.
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: As a young football player at Chaney High School you played both football and basketball. What ultimately made you want to stick with football?
BRADLEY SMITH: The football field was a place for me to get away from everything and not have to think and just compete. I still love playing basketball though.
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: Tell us about “Ninja Fists”. How did you come up with your technique to release the ball?
BRADLEY SMITH: I have no idea where that came from. I’ve never heard that!
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: Not only did you do incredibly well playing football at Missouri, you also did well in the classroom and recognized by being named to the Big 12 All-Academic Team. What kept you focused and motivated every day?
BRADLEY SMITH: I could have done a lot better because I usually waited until the last minute to study. That’s something I would have loved to have done differently. I encourage students not to wait until the last minute for study time. It makes such a difference when you put in the time.
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: You were also involved in numerous charitable and sports organizations like the Mike Jones Football Clinic, Chancellor’s Lunch, Big Brothers and Big Sisters Bowl for Kids Sake. Where did you find the time?
BRADLEY SMITH: It’s very important to me to give back what others have taken the time to invest in me. I’ve been so blessed to be able to work with these great organizations. It’s my way of saying “thank you.”
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: When you are not playing, volunteering, and very soon interning, what do you like to do on your off time? Do you even have any off time?
BRADLEY SMITH: I do. I enjoy spending anytime I have with my family. They are always the most valuable, most important and my priority.
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: Two words: Cedar Point. Any fun story to tell?
BRADLEY SMITH: Love it!
I enjoy spending anytime I have with my family. They are always the most valuable, most important and my priority.
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: Congratulations as well on your upcoming internship with Men’s Health Magazine! This is another wonderful accomplishment to add to your list. How did this opportunity come up?
BRADLEY SMITH: I’m excited about it! My good friend Eddie Rhodman of Destined For Success Management helped set it up. We discussed my interest in fashion and Men’s Health Style department was gracious enough to allow me to learn from them about the fashion world.
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: What are you looking forward to the most about this experience? And what do you hope to take away from it?
BRADLEY SMITH: I look forward to meeting the staff at Men’s Health and get a better understanding of the ins and outs, the business, of the fashion industry as well as the methods Men’s Health Style uses to transfer their ideas to print.
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: Are you looking forward to the non-glamorous sides of being an intern? Is there anything that makes you nervous?
BRADLEY SMITH: I’m excited about all of it. Including all the coffee runs (laughs).
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: Professional athletes like DWYANE WADE are not shy about expressing themselves with clothes. What do you think is the connection between the sports world and the fashion world?
BRADLEY SMITH: It’s a way of expressing yourself outside of the sport and allows guys to present an image of themselves that most fans don’t get to see when they are playing.
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: Tell us about your fashion sense. What is your signature look?
BRAD SMITH: Classic and Urban. I probably feel most comfortable in a long sleeve henley and a pair of jeans.
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: Do you have any fashion guilty pleasures, like too many sneakers?
BRADLEY SMITH: Definitely too many sneakers! Way too many…
L’ETAGE MAGAZINE: Do you envision being in journalism after your football career?
BRADLEY SMITH: I do see myself working in journalism in some capacity. It is time-consuming and very difficult to be good at it, to perfect it. I have so much respect for good journalists and I want to learn from and work with the best.
It’s very important to me to give back what others have taken the time to invest in me. I’ve been so blessed to be able to work with these great organizations. It’s my way of saying “thank you.”
**The award was given to DALLAS COWBOYS TIGHT END JASON WITTEN during the 26th Annual NFL-Sanctioned ATHLETES IN ACTION SUPER BOWL BREAKFAST, presented by COMPANIES WITH A MISSION, on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 at the HYATT REGENCY NEW ORLEANS .
In his tenth season in the NFL, Witten has been active in numerous charitable projects. He founded JASON WITTEN’S SCORE FOUNDATION, which supports a variety of outreach programs and building projects in Texas and his native Tennessee . Specifically, the JASON WITTEN SCOREKEEPERS PROGRAM places trained male mentors in battered women’s shelters throughout Texas. In an effort to break the cycle of domestic violence, the mentors demonstrate positive male behavior for the children living in these shelters. Witten has also been involved in the CHILDREN’S CANCER FUND FASHION SHOW, NFL PLAY 60, BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB OF AMERICA and the MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION, among many other projects.
PHOTO CREDITS : Nautica and Tommy Hilfiger
WEBSITE LINKS : www.truefoundation16.org
FOLLOW BRADLEY SMITH ON TWITTER : @RealBradSmith