Since his retirement, Smith has still found a way to help the organization, especially the young wide receivers on the teams.
“They say experience is the best teacher,” he said. “I have a lot of experience in this locker room. This is the only one I ever was in, in the NFL. When those guys come in this locker room, they respect the fact that I have experience here, not somewhere else.”
Smith has addressed the team as a whole, as well as spent time talking specifically to the wide receivers.
“I think especially Demaryius (Thomas) and (Eric) Decker and (Brandon) Stokley and I are very close still,” Smith said. “I think those guys respect what I did and how I did it.”
“When I came here, he would always talk about how to practice and stuff like that,” Bailey said. “I always practiced hard, but I really didn’t understand or appreciate how much it meant to my development, and Rod kind of opened my eyes to that.”
Broncos Assistant Special Teams Coach Keith Burns entered the NFL with Smith in 1994, and the pair played together for 11 seasons as Broncos.
Burns said he uses Smith’s story “all the time” with the young special teamers beginning their careers just as Smith did.
“I always tell the young guys, if there’s a guy you ever want to pattern yourself after (it’s Smith),” Burns said. “I think he basically just took advantage of every opportunity that he got. He just loved the game, respected the game for what it was. So I’m always proud to say that I know a guy like that, who started on special teams and became an integral part of Broncos football.”
Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy competed in Broncos training camp in 1995 as a college free agent, just as Smith had a year before.
During their brief time as teammates, McCoy said Smith’s work ethic jumped out right away.
“He was one of those guys that worked extremely hard,” McCoy said. “That’s why he had the career he had. He was always the first one out there, last one to leave. ... He worked extremely hard. Everything he’s received, he deserves.”
McCoy said he sees some of Smith’s work ethic in current members of the team.
“That’s very similar to the way (quarterback) Peyton (Manning) is,” McCoy said. “Guys see that and they see why those players have so much success. The guys that play for 10-plus years, there’s a reason. They work extremely hard. They do everything they possibly can to stay in the game. … We’ve got a couple of those players here now that they show up every day and they’re fighting for their job. “
Smith said his love of the organization fuels his desire to continue helping in any way possible. While he can’t go out play receiver anymore, he is doing everything he can to help the wideouts on the roster with his experience.
“Demaryius and those guys who were just coming out of college when I was leaving the game, I think they still remember throwing it to me on Playstation in their dorm rooms,” Smith said. “To get to see me live and just steal a nugget or two, I think it’s a great thing for them. It’s actually an advantage for them because I can tell them some things that are going to happen, guaranteed, no matter what they think.”