One Former Tiger's Journey to the NFL
CALLAWAY COUNTY - Justin Smith has been making plays like this for nearly two decades. First at Jefferson City High School, then at Mizzou, and now in the NFL.
"He never watched a football game or anything. He was not really in sports when he was really young," said Dave Smith, Justin Smith's father.
Justin Smith is a defensive end for the San Frncisco 49ers. Has the 4th overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft and he's a four-time Pro Bowler, but he didn't begin to fall in love with the game of football until he was a teenager
"When he really fell in love with sports, or especially football, was in weight lifting and everything was about his eighth grade or so when he realized he was strong," Dave Smith said.
Smith grew up on a cattle ranch near Fulton and helped his dad outside with the daily chores.
"He really enjoyed being strong and lifting buckets of hay or buckets of feed and hay bales and everything else, and if he couldn't it just made him want to try to do it that much harder," Dave Smith said.
Smith has been in the NFL for a dozen years. He's suffered two concussions but he never missed a game until this past season.
"It's the first time he's ever missed a practice or a game from junior high on," Dave Smith said.
On December 16th against New England, Smith partially tore his left triceps.
"He told me, now of course defensive lineman use the triceps to move all the time and so all the hands game, and he mentioned to us he couldn't even do a pushup," Dave Smith said.
Smith decided to forgo surgery until after the playoffs, but unfortunately, his season ended with a Super Bowl loss.
"You know we were extremely dissapointed for a little while, but we was going to see him later that night and you know you can't, you gotta get over it, you gotta go on," Dave Smith said.
Smith has since had successful surgery, but he is 33 years old and entering the final year of his contract.
His parents say Smith might retire soon, but he would like to go out as a Super Bowl champion.