Terrelle Smith went half crazy trying to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers as a Cleveland Brown. He can work out some frustration by doing it Sunday as an Arizona Cardinal.
Another day, another chance to beat you know who.
This time, it’s in a Super Bowl for Arizona fullback Terrelle Smith.
Brother, did “T-Smith” want to tee off against the Pittsburgh Steelers when he played fullback for the Cleveland Browns.
“I would work so extra hard,” Smith said. “I would have all these plans about how I was gonna hit all these linebackers. Joey Porter ... James Farrior. I had all their names written down, who I was gonna hit.”
The Steelers always hit back.
“I don’t know why the Browns could never get right to beat them,” Smith said softly. “My last year with New Orleans, we beat them. When I came to the Cardinals in 2007, we beat them.
“My three years in Cleveland ... we beat the other teams in the division, but when it came to the Steelers, we would just (pause) lose.
“Six straight losses to those guys. ... It was like a curse. Maybe they were in our heads.”
Smith, 30, is one of those soulful men whose low voice and penetrating eyes have a certain time-traveling quality, as if he’s living a scene all over again.
The conversation goes back to Phoenix in the spring of 2006. Smith is 0-4 against Pittsburgh as a Browns fullback at that point. Steelers lineman Marvel Smith, who went through Arizona State with Smith, is there. Marvel Smith’s wife spots Terrelle Smith and grins.
“She says, ‘There you are ...’ And the first thing she says is, ‘You’re not gonna beat us this year, either.’”
Smith the man would laugh and be polite. Smith the fullback would get mad.
“The Pittsburgh thing just bothered me,” he said. “The one game, they just beat us so bad. It got colder and colder ... (groaning) it was horrible.”
He was talking about the 41-0 loss on Christmas Eve 2005. About the only amusement he drew from the day was Steelers linebacker James Harrison body slamming a drunken fan who ran onto the field.
Smith is lucky to be in a Super Bowl. He has played in nearly 150 career games at a position that chews up most players within 100.
He has been busy in the playoffs, with the Cardinals using the run heavily to take pressure off quarterback Kurt Warner. They rushed 43 times in a 33-13 stunner at Carolina.
It’s the kind of stuff Smith hoped he was signing up for in Cleveland.
“One reason I went there in 2004 was the chemistry I thought I had with Butch (Davis),” Smith said. “But when I finally started to put the team together in my mind, when I started to meet guys, I realized that not everybody believed in Butch.
“I thought, uh oh ... what did I get myself into?”
Cleveland’s offensive coordinator in 2004 was Terry Robiskie, then Rob Chudzinski. Maurice “Mo” Carthon became coordinator when Romeo Crennel became head coach in ’05.
“I really liked Maurice, and then he resigned,” Smith said. “It became like (laughing) this musical-chairs, revolving-door thing. Nothing was ever set in stone.
“It was never, ‘Give it some time to work,’ so we continued and, I said, ‘Man.’”
General manager Phil Savage drafted fullback Lawrence Vickers in 2006. Smith left for the Cardinals the next year.
The world turns. Smith gets another shot at the Steelers in his first Super Bowl.
“I wish I could have gone to the playoffs with Cleveland,” Smith said. “I wish we could have done what I helped the Cardinals do.
“I liked Cleveland. You never know in this business. If it’s ever in it for me to go back to Cleveland, I’ll be on the first bus there.”