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Lions Retire Missing Boater Smith’s No. 93 For 2009 Season

When I first heard the story of the missing boaters it was sad to read, but when it was obvious that they would not be found my heart wept for their families and I found this latest article on nfl.com and I felt it was so touching that I had to share it. May god bless the families of the boaters and may he bless the recovered boater who’s life will not be the same after being stranded for 2 days but to have lost 3 good friends during this tragic event.

The Detroit Lions will retire the number 93 for the 2009 football season in memory of player Corey Smith, one of three men lost when their fishing boat capsized off the Florida Gulf Coast three weeks ago.

Lions player development director Galen Duncan told several hundred mourners in Smith’s hometown church Saturday that Smith’s number would be retired for a year in honor of a player of extraordinary heart and competitive drive.

“I want to tell you something about Corey Smith playing with pain,” Duncan said of Smith, who played with such abandon that high school teammates called him the Tasmanian Devil.

“I’d tell the coaches, ‘You’ve got to watch Corey because he’s not going to tell you he’s hurt,'” said Duncan, whom Smith befriended in his three seasons in Detroit. “If you could see the way this man worked.”

The Coast Guard rescued one man, Nick Schuyler, who was clinging to the 21-foot boat’s overturned hull, on March 2, two days after it overturned in stormy seas. The bodies of Smith, Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, and former University of South Florida player William Bleakley have not been found.

Many of Smith’s teammates from the Lions and from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers where he played his first four NFL seasons attended the memorial service. So did former teammates and coaches from North Carolina State and from Richmond’s John Marshall High School.

His high school coach, Kevin Burden, tearfully conceded that he was never impartial about the quiet giant who was the team’s undisputed leader.

“You’re not supposed to have a favorite player when you are a coach, but he was the one who got under your skin. He was a great football player but he was an even better man,” Burden said in a faltering voice.

“Tonight, when I say my prayers, I will ask God to assign me a guardian angel and he’ll be wearing number 93,” Burden concluded, leaving many in the crowd sobbing or wiping their eyes.

Smith signed with Tampa Bay as an undrafted rookie in 2002 and backed up Pro Bowl defensive linemen Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice on a Buccaneers team that won a Super Bowl.

An earlier injury sidelined Smith for the Super Bowl, but he was there with his team. His diamond-crusted Super Bowl ring was the only bling Smith wore, friends said. And for the rest of his career, he drove himself year-round to show the world he deserved it, said linebacker Ryan Nece, a teammate of Smith’s in Tampa and Detroit.

“He was never complacent. He was always striving to prove himself,” Nece said. And at 250 pounds, Smith was “an undersized defensive lineman, and some people may argue that there’s no way that they can play in the NFL. But he constantly worked on his craft, constantly tried to improve.”

To Lions rookie defensive end Landon Cohen, Smith was a mentor during last year’s agonizing 0-16 season — the worst in NFL history.

“We spent a lot of time together, and that’s the way Corey was: he didn’t say much, but he led by example,” Cohen said. “He was a blue-collar working guy.”

Legends of the Star – Cliff Harris

This week’s “Legend of the Star” is one of the best defensive players in Cowboys history, none other than Cliff Harris. Although Cliff was not drafted in 1970, he was invited by the Cowboys to training camp where he shocked his coaches with his intense style of play. Although the organization had just drafted the highly touted Charlie Waters, the Cowboys surprised everyone in the league when they announced that Cliff Harris would be the starter at free safety for the season opener.

 Cliff Harris single handedly led the secondary with his “all-out” style of play and due to his relentless pursuit of the ball carrier he was soon nicknamed “Captain Crash” by his teammates. His devastating hits struck fear in the hearts of any ball carrier that got in his way. The new nickname became synonymous with his hard-nosed, bone-crushing style of play and many football experts credit Cliff Harris for changing the way the free safety position is played today.

His rookie year was interrupted due to military service, but he returned just in time to help the Cowboys win Super Bowl VI over the Dolphins. He continued playing at free safety for the next 9 seasons, and began to compile some incredible achievements while playing one great season after another. He was considered by many to being the most dominating defensive player in the NFL during his tenure. In a stunning decision, he announced his retirement following the 1979 season to pursue his business ventures.

Harris finished his 10 NFL seasons with 29 interceptions, which he returned for 281 yards and 1 touchdown, and 18 fumble recoveries, which he returned for 91 yards. He also gained 418 yards on punt returns and 1,622 yards returning kickoffs.

During his short yet remarkable career, he made 5 Super Bowl appearances and was chosen for the Pro Bowl six consecutive times. He is in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, the NAIA Hall of Fame and Sports Illustrated Writers named him their Dream Team free safety. In 2004 he was selected to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor for his contributions to the franchise. He truly was a “Legend of the Star” in every sense and I enjoyed telling you a little about this great Cowboy.

 

Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys.