Only 267 bronze busts reside in the Hall of Fame Gallery inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. They "immortalize" the greatest players, coaches, and contributors that this game has produced. Each week during the 2011 NFL Season we will sit down for a Q&A with one of these legends.
Bruce Smith, Class of 2009
I’m a huge golfer. I still like to fish on occasion, but golf is something I have really become quite fond of.
I love all kinds of music. I love R&B, I love Hip Hop, I love Jazz, and there are some country songs I love. So I’m a big fan of music in general.
I thoroughly enjoyed “Born Free,” and that probably has to go down as being the all-time great for me.
I love Italian food and I love soul food.
FAVORITE NFL TEAM AS A CHILD:
The Pittsburgh Steelers
FAVORITE NFL STADIUM OTHER THAN RICH STADIUM OR FEDEX FIELD:
Joe Robbie Stadium.
WHY DID YOU PICK NO. 78?
I think number 78 chose me. It was somewhat destined for greatness. I don’t ever recall picking that number, but it just suited me and fit me well.
DID YOU HAVE ANY PRE-GAME SUPERSTITIONS?
I do know that there were some guys on the team that did, I didn’t necessarily have any superstitions. I knew that if you don’t block, tackle and execute you lose.
WHAT’S BETTER ABOUT THE NFL TODAY THAN WHEN YOU PLAYED?
I think the safety of the game has drastically improved for the players and the integrity of the game. I think for the most part players are well protected in this era.
WHAT WAS BETTER ABOUT THE NFL DURING YOUR CAREER THAN THE GAME TODAY?
I don’t think things got blown out of proportion to the extent that they do now and that’s probably a result of the heightened media outlets and media coverage. I really think that in some particular cases it can damage a player’s career or even affect their family’s mindset from a standpoint of tarnishing their careers.
FAVORITE ATHLETE EVER IN ANY SPORT:
ONE PERSON WHO INFLUENCED YOU MOST IN LIFE:
WHAT MAKES YOU MOST PROUD ABOUT YOUR HALL OF FAME CAREER?
To amass the number of tackles that were made and more importantly the unprecedented number of sacks amidst double and occasional triple teams because the 3-4 system that I played in that is unheard of for a 3-4 defensive end.
WHEN IF EVER DID YOU REALIZE YOU MAY SOMEDAY MAKE THE HALL OF FAME?
I never though about the Hall of Fame until the latter part of my career when other players and other coaches and other fans started to bring that to the forefront. I was just enjoying the game, trying to be the best I could possibly be and meanwhile they were whispering “you could potentially be the best that’s ever played the game.”
HOW DID YOU LEARN OF YOUR HALL OF FAME ELECTION?
I was actually in the green room at the Hall of Fame announcement special at the Super Bowl in Tampa.
WAS YOUR DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR TED COTTRELL YOUR ONLY CHOICE AS A PRESENTER?
No I thought very long and hard about who I should get to present me. I certainly thought about Marv Levy, because he had a profound impact on my career and my life as well. But Ted Cottrell was the one which took me under his wings as a young player, a player that needed a player’s coach so to speak, someone which I could relate to, someone I could confide in, someone that looked out for me and cared about me as a person and then thought about the game of football.
IF YOU COULD DO YOUR ENSHRINEMENT SPEECH OVER TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY DIFFERENTLY?
I think I pretty much summed it up and said it all, but I would be remiss if I did not continue to acknowledge how blessed and thankful I am to have had so many important people from a standpoint of the relationships I’ve built that have enriched my life. My teammates, my high school football and basketball coaches Cal Davidson and Zeke Avery, and the village back in Norfolk, Va. They helped to raise me as a kid and saw more in me than I saw in myself at that young age trying to keep me on the straight and narrow, guiding me and never giving up hope on me that one day I would achieve goals beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations.
TOUGHEST PLAYER YOU FACED:
It’s very difficult to narrow down to one particular player, but I will say on the few occasions that I played against him, Barry Sanders, was probably the most elusive, and the most determined player that I happened to play against.
WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT OFF THE FOOTBALL FIELD?
I would have to say my mission. I went on a mission trip to Kenya with Operation Smile and I had the opportunity to participate in several operations to repair cleft palates, cleft lips on young children and give them a sense of having a self-worth again. And the other one, I would have to say is the USO Tour I took a few Christmases ago to spend the holidays with our troops over in Iraq.
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