The Detroit Lions are honoring the memory of Corey Smith — one of the three men lost when their fishing boat capsized three weeks ago.
No Lion will wear Smith’s jersey number (93) in 2009, Lions player development director Galen Duncan said Saturday.
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.
A memorial service was held for Smith in his Richmond, Va. church and many came forward to speak about the type of player — and man he was.
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.
And as terrible at the Lions’ campaign was last season, Smith apparently was steadying force for the younger players.
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.
In Smith’s memory, no Lion will wear 93 this fall (Sun-Times)