The West Virginia quarterback had dreams of grandeur and believed he was destined to be a high selection in Thursday's first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. After 32 picks, Smith still was in the green room, with cameras repeatedly showing his sullen demeanor.
Smith told ESPN's Suzy Kolber that he's going home instead of returning to Radio City Music Hall for Friday's second and third rounds. Smith declined interviews but briefly said he wasn't surprised with the developments and would "play with a chip on his shoulder, even bigger than the one he had before."
There's no problem with Smith being disappointed. As a competitor, he should be. And he should use this as motivation. But it's not a good move to decline interviews, pout and go home.
Being a leader is all about standing up and taking the good with the bad. Smith didn't hesitate to give interview after interview leading up to the draft and basking in the glow of all the hype in New York. He's the biggest story of the draft right now, and he's going to steal home without talking to anyone?
This isn't a good impression to leave on NFL teams and those who questioned Smith's leadership and character in pressure situations. Smith will have to stand up in front of the media and take his lumps after a bad day when he throws three interceptions in a loss. This is no different.
I'm not trying to pile on Smith. He seems like a good guy with a ton of potential, but he shouldn't have been a first-rounder in the first place. The quarterbacks haven't slipped. They're going where they should.
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Smith had an opportunity to stand up, bow his chest and show the world that he isn't fazed by a little adversity. Alabama running back Eddie Lacy brought two suits with the knowledge that he might have had to return Friday.
Smith decided to slink away. He seemed above that.
UPDATE: It appears Smith has changed course. NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported Friday that Smith has decided to remain in New York, but Lacy planned to go home after not being drafted in the first round.