Pittsburgh Steelers special teams coordinator Danny Smith is still taking one for the team. Even at 70.
Smith says he tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder off the bone in three places when Steelers safety Damontae Kazee plowed over him on the sideline at the end of Kazee's game-clinching interception return in last Sunday's victory over Green Bay.
Kazee picked off Packers quarterback Jordan Love at the goal line and then raced down the Steelers sideline before stepping out of bounds while simultaneously getting shoved by Green Bay offensive lineman Zach Tom. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Kazee was basically at full speed when he slammed into his team's septuagenarian special teams guru.
Pittsburgh tight end Rodney Williams helped scoop Smith out of harm's way as a brief scuffle broke out, with Williams noting Smith never stopped chewing his gum even as chaos broke out around him.
“I couldn’t get up,” Smith said. “When I landed on my shoulder, it went numb and I couldn’t get off the ground. I got tramped on a couple times and I rolled over on my back. When I rolled over on my back, he slid me out.”
Smith thanked Williams for helping him get out of harm’s way shortly after the fight started and joked he’s “going to have a hard time sitting (Williams) now.”
Smith will need surgery to repair the injury at some point, though it's hardly the first time he's been hit.
“I've been hit a lot, been hit hard,” Smith said. “I've got a lot of metal in my body. I've got to learn to get the (heck) out of the way.”
As rough as it looked, the perpetually raspy-voiced Smith — who joined his hometown team in 2013 after NFL stops in Washington, Philadelphia, Detroit and Buffalo — still doesn't think it ranks at the top of the list in terms of collisions he's endured during his nearly 50 years in coaching.
While working at Georgia Tech, he fractured his leg and ended up needing a plate and a half-dozen screws in his knee to fix it. Former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown slammed into him during training camp at St. Vincent College one summer, breaking Smith's ribs, a vertebrae in the middle of his spine and one of his fingers.
Still, Smith stressed, “I'm good" and will be on the sideline on Sunday when Pittsburgh (6-3) visits Cleveland (6-3).
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