I had a chance the other day to catch up with Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith — or, rather, Super Bowl XLVIII MVP Malcolm Smith.
That’s pretty much his new title after his out-of-the-blue capturing of the MVP hardware as the Seahawks beat Denver 43-8.
As usually happens, there were a few quotes that didn’t make the final cut. Smith spoke after helping promoting the Great American Milk Drive at the downtown Seattle Food Lifeline warehouse.
Smith said hunger is a cause that struck close to home as he said he had friends growing up who often struggled to find enough to eat. He also has been part of Seahawks group that volunteered at food shelters in previous years,
“You can’t expect to get the best out of a kid in class if they haven’t eaten,” Smith said.
As the story details, Smith has made a number of appearances in the two-plus months since winning MVP honors.
When he spoke last week, it had been exactly 60 days since the Super Bowl, something he said he hadn’t realized.
“It’s gone by really fast,” he said. “I’m having a good time, enjoying the opportunities I have been given to do stuff like this and helping the community.”
But as stated in the story, Smith said he’s also getting anxious to return to what he does best — play football. He started games at both weakside and strongside linebacker last season and it will be interesting to see how things shake out with Smith having proven worthy of starting, but with the fulltime starters at those spots (K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin) also returning.
Asked where he wants to fit in, Smith responded: “Honestly, I don’t want to fit in. I want to be able to kind of carve out a place for myself. I feel like our whole team is made up of guys who don’t just fit in, but they do special stuff. And I want to do special stuff for our team whenever I step on the field. So my goal is to just be the best player I can be and be the most ball-hungry guy out there.’’
The team, though, will look a bit different when it reconvenes with the loss of a few key players in free agency. Smith said the departures will mean an inevitable period of adjustment for the 2014 Seahawks.
“It’s tough, man,” he said. “It will impact us. You are never the same team you were before, But you have to try and recapture what you did to be successful, so we’ve got guys who are going to have to step up, myself included. There are a lot of young guys on the D-line I think are pretty good players who are going to get an opportunity and are going to play well in our scheme. I don’t think coach (Pete) Carroll or our general manager (John Schneider) would put them in a position where they wouldn’t be. So I am looking forward to that, I’m looking forward to our younger players stepping into a leadership role, guys like myself and K.J. Wright and and Bobby Wagner. We are a veteran group as linebackers now so we want to play like that and we want that to be known around the league.”
Smith noted that there are a number of players who will be eager to take on larger roles this season.
“A lot of them didn’t get the opportunity to splash like they wanted to last year, and guys like myself, guys like Bruce (Irvin), I’m sure he is looking to make a big splash. Percy (Harvin), after the year like he had last year he wants to show that he’s the player that everybody saw in the Super Bowl. So I think we are all anxious. Winning is cool, but at the same time we feel like we have a lot to prove personally, and together I feel like that will make us a lot better team.”
It’ll be a key year for Smith as he has a chance to be a free agent following the 2014 season. He said he knows that’s coming, but isn’t something he’s worrying about yet.
“First of all, the main thing is being healthy and I think I feel like if I’m healthy and out there and practice, then things will take care of themselves. You have an opportunity to show yourself as a player as long as you are on the field. So I need to just get on the field and all of that will take care of itself.’’
What Smith won’t be able to do in 2014 is dunk the ball over the goal posts if he scores another touchdown, as he, well, tried to do after his score against the Broncos in the Super Bowl.
That the NFL has now passed a rule outlawing such dunks, Smith has the added distinction of being the last player to legally try one in a game. Smith has somewhat mixed — as well as somewhat sheepish — feelings about it all.
“I think when it is disruptive, like banging into the goal post and kind of tiliting it, it does cause a problem,” he said. “At the same time, it’s a fun thing that’s been going on for years, so why change it now? I guess mine must have been really bad to say ‘okay, cut it out.’’