Losing a parent can be among the most disorienting experiences of young adulthood.
Denver Broncos defensive end Antonio Smith learned early Wednesday that his 58-year-old father died from complications from heart surgery. He didn’t consider leaving his team, preparing for Sunday’s Super Bowl 50. While he was excused from media responsibilities Thursday, he chose to attend the interview session with the Broncos.
Smith said he was more concerned with his siblings than his own grief.
“That’s my whole role for my brothers,” Smith, 34, said. “I’m always here for them whenever they need words of encouragement.”
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Smith’s father, Marty Christopher Williams, had been imprisoned since a 1991 conviction on first-degree murder in Oklahoma City.
Smith said his father’s side of the family was full of size and athletic ability.
“My dad’s side: 300-pound men who could probably run 4.8 (40-yard dashes), 4.7’s,” said Smith, who told a story about the “Hood Olympics” competitions in his Oklahoma town.
“They would be picking up cars, picking each other up. I’m telling you, they were over 300 pounds. Some of these kids picking each other up with one arm,” Smith recalled. “Foot races with 180-pound guys. I wish I had all of their athletic ability. I just got a little bit.
“I never was the one coming up as a young kid, the one they say, ‘Oh he’s going to make to it the NFL.’ I was clumsy, slow footed, had a lot of heart and ended up in this place for a reason and a purpose.”
No lap children
Broncos punter Britton Colquitt had to buy a Super Bowl ticket for his newborn. The NFL’s rule: Anyone through the turnstiles, even infants, must have a ticket.
“Apparently it’s not every seat, it’s every head. Even though this one is so small that she can be concealed under a sweatshirt, we had to get her a ticket, which is fine,” Colquitt said.
“It’s just kind of crazy. We’re going to have three kids there – a 4-year old, a 2-year old and then a 2-week old. She’ll be there. If we win, we don’t want to take pictures and she’s not in it. She’d be kind of mad at us one day: ‘Where am I? Why didn’t I go to the Super Bowl?’ It’s kind of silly, but I’m happy to pay for it.”
The Peyton question
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and his teammates can’t get through a media session without multiple questions about the possibility of Manning retiring after Sunday’s game.
Constant a topic as it is for the media, it’s not on the players’ minds, according to safety T.J. Ward.
“It has not been talked about at all,” Ward said. “I know Peyton is completely about this team and winning this for the team. Regardless of what he does, this one right here is for the 2015 Broncos.”
Entertainer Snoop Dogg was credentialed for Thursday’s media sessions and worked the players with a camera crew provided by the Rich Eisen show. Silly as some of Snoop’s questions were, the players got a kick out of the routine.
“That gives you the real Super Bowl moment when Snoop Dogg comes and interviews you and things like that,” said cornerback Aqib Talib. “It’s good, man. It’s good for the week.”
No dancing for Kubiak
Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman once played in the youth football league Snoop Dogg ran and financed in Southern California. So he was asked Thursday the difference between Snoop and Broncos coach Gary Kubiak in sideline demeanor.
“I don’t think Kubiak is dancing after a touchdown,” Hillman said, drawing laughter. “You might get a raised hand, but I don’t think you’re going to get the whole dance celebration. Snoop is a little bit more loose with his (celebration).”