Smoot visits Bowmar Elementary

Published 12:30 am Saturday, May 7, 2011

Former NFL player Fred Smoot was at Vicksburg’s Bowmar Elementary School on Friday to fire up the children for next week’s Mississippi Curriculum Test.

The MCT is a three-day statewide test for elementary students that measures academic progress in various subjects like mathematics, reading and science.

Smoot, who played 10 seasons in the NFL for the Washington Redskins and the Minnesota Vikings, spoke about the current NFL lockout and how it relates to getting a good education.

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“Those guys don’t have a job right now, but the world keeps going and can go on without pro football,” Smoot said. “Their job may have been taken away, but there are other things you can do than just play football. There are careers that matter like being a doctor, or a lawyer or an accountant. That’s why these tests that you all are about to take next week are so important.”

Smoot is following his own advice. He recently opened a Waffle House in Washington, D.C., as part of a business venture. Now, he’s planning to go to medical school in the Atlanta area where he lives with his wife.

“I want to give med school a chance,” said Smoot, who majored in psychology and broadcasting during his two years at Mississippi State. “It may take five or six years, but I want to give it a chance.”

It could also help Smoot research the other big issue that has affected the NFL in recent years — concussions.

“Football is a violent sport,” Smoot said. “We always learned how to tackle one way, but that is changing, just like the headgear is changing. I like that the new helmets are lighter but they are more protective. They are much better than the ones I had to play with.”

Smoot said he doesn’t remember ever having a concussion but did note his other injuries.

“I broke my collarbone, my ankle and my shin,” he said.

Smoot told the children that his majors at Mississippi State did have a benefit on the football team.

“It’s great for trash talk,” Smoot said. “I loved getting in those receivers’ heads.”

Another child asked about his toughest hit in the NFL.

“I was run over by this big fat running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Smoot joked about Jerome Bettis. “Not only did he run over me, but he did it twice, in the same game.”

In 10 pro seasons, Smoot finished with 21 interceptions and 444 tackles.

“I loved every minute of it,” the former Provine and Hinds Community College star said of his career. “I loved to play. I was always told I was too small, or not fast enough or I couldn’t do this, and that just lit a fire under me.”