PITTSBURGH — “He’s OK. He had enough bubble gum in his mouth to protect him,” safety Damontae Kazee said after the game. Who was he being asked about? None other than Steelers special teams coordinator Danny Smith.
Smith took a spill at the end of the game when Kazee was slowing down as he reached the sideline, and that’s when Packers right tackle Zach Tom blasted him. Kazee was unhappy with the play when asked about it after the game.
“I don’t know what happened aside from that I do know I got tackled out of bounds,” Kazee said. “It was just uncalled for. I’ve been an injured guy, I’m just trying to stay healthy.”
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Smith ended up taking the tumble and getting back up just fine. He walked off the field under his own power. But after Smith got decked and appeared ready to get up, players huddled around Tom and Kazee with a minor scuttlebutt erupting. Smith was still caught in the fray, but tight end Rodney Williams had the heads-up idea to go in there and pull Smith out.
“I think he was cool with it, and I was trying to make sure the training staff go to see him afterward,” Williams said. “I didn’t get a really good chance to see him after the game. So, I came in here today to check up on him. I just saw him down there. He was trying to scoot out of there but he couldn’t really move for real. I just had to get my dog out of there.”
Danny Smith Has a Funny Reaction
Smith’s iconic gum-chewing has made him something of lore within the Steelers locker room. If you see him on the sideline, he chews on the gum for most of the game. That continued on Sunday, but somehow, even after he was hit, Williams says he held onto the gum and just kept chewing.
“He didn’t say much to me,” Williams said. “He was just chewing his gum. Even when he went down he was still chewing his gum. When I picked him up and I looked at him, he was still chewing it. I don’t know how he was able to do that.”
Mike Tomlin said he ‘assumes’ that Smith is fine after getting shellacked. He said reporters like to ‘chase emergency vehicles’ with questions about the brawl. No one has said for sure, but nothing seems to have happened to Smith, who just hopped up and returned to the locker room. So, credit that to him.
Smith, 70, has coached football since 1976 and played college football, too. From Pittsburgh, it’s not all that surprising that Smith just went on like it was nobody’s business. That is just who he is, and he will not retire anytime soon from coaching football too. He is the poster child for a ‘football guy.’
“I’m a lifer, man,” Smith said. “I don’t have any hobbies. I’m not a golfer or a traveler. That’s a pain in the ass anymore. I don’t know what the hell I would do if I didn’t have this place and football. You probably are going to see me crawl off this field one day. I don’t have any plans. I’m good to go. I love it. I’m prepared for it. I’m forever.”
The Steelers are content with having Smith’s energy and gum-chewing skills around for as long as possible. Sunday just added a bit more to that legend nad added another chapter to Smith’s character within the organization.