´ Steel Curtain Rising: Anthony Smith Signs with Packers

Who gets the game ball for the Steelers win over the Texans?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Anthony Smith Signs with Packers

Credit the site The Steel Yard with breaking Steelers Nation the news that that Anthony "I guarantee victory" Smith has signed with the Green Bay Packers. OK, ESPN also reported Smith's defection, but thus far neither of Pittsburgh's two major dailies have reported Smith's departure.

Smith was due to become a restricted free agent this year, but the Steelers opted not to give him any quaifying tender, which would have allowed them to match any offer from another team or get compensation should he leave, making him an unrestricted free agent.

From a Rookie Smash to a Sophmore Crash

Smith was drafted in the third round in 2006, and quickly made a name for himself with his big hits. However, he also revealed a tendency to showboat, which drew him the ire of both Bill Cowher and Dick LeBeau.

Nonetheless, going into his sophomore season, Smith was seen as the heir apparent at free safety, while Ryan Clark was viewed as more of a stop gap. Smith failed to wrest the starting spot from Clark during Mike Tomlin's first training camp.

Smith still saw plenty of action in early 2007, and the injury to Ryan Clark against Denver thrust him into the starting line up. In what was perhaps to be an ominous sign, the Steelers defense gave up a 49 yard drive that ended with Jason Elam kicking the willing field goal with Smith standing in for Clark. It would be unfair to place all of the blame for this on Smith, but the Steelers defense ended up giving up 4th quarter leads 3 more times in 2007 after losing Clark.

But Smith's true moment of ignominy came before the Patriot's game, when he brazenly guaranteed victory, only to be torched by Tom Brady twice on deep touchdown passes. Smith quickly found himself on the bench and in Mike Tomlin's dog house.

Practice Hero

Anthony Smith succeeded in grabbing headlines at St. Vincents in 2008, but not in a way the team would like. Smith throttled Hines Ward during practice, a move which relegated him to street clothes for the Steelers for the team's first preseason game against the Eagles.

At the time the Post-Gazette's Gene Collier denounced Smith for "thuggery" a move which prompted Mike Tomlin to defend his embattled free safety.

But actions speak louder than words. Smith played sparingly in 2008, and was inactive for several key games, including the Super Bowl.

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