Keeping with tradition, the popular football-themed fundraising luncheon was a sellout, raising some $25,000 for local Salvation Army services, including 52,278 hot meals for the hungry and 7,692 nights of shelter for the homeless provided last year.
After a pre-luncheon press conference with local sports media, Smith dedicated his noontime remarks to encouraging the Salvation Army and its supporters in their faith and their work for the community’s needy.
Referencing words from the book of Hebrews, Smith called on the crowd to encourage each other in good deeds. “That’s what I want to do,” he said.
“I want to encourage you to huddle today. Important things happen in the huddle. That’s where you get encouragement, in the huddle. You may get a warning ... You may get instruction.
“You don’t stay in the huddle because it’s about what’s happening outside the huddle. But you leave the huddle different than you came in and you must apply what you got in the huddle. That’s the purpose of a huddle. And that is what is happening today. I hope you leave here different and apply what you learn.”
Inspired by his father and his high school football coach, Smith said he decided at a young age he wanted to be a coach. And when he applied for his first coaching job, he said he was asked why he wanted to be a coach and responded, “because I want to make a difference.”
At the end of his professional career and many years of coaching at the high school, college and professional level, Smith said he was asked if he had any regrets.
“I thought about it and I did not have any regrets because all the way back I had my ‘why.’
“I coached to make a difference. I looked at every player as my son. That was my focus. It worked out — and it is something I thanked God for — that this is more than a game. I discovered coaching football was not my job. It was my purpose.”
Smith told the crowd 90 percent of coaching is getting people ready to play mentally. And he gave them what he said were the same five points of instruction he gave to all his players:
“Get your mind right. Run in a straight line. Press the hole. Read your key. Don’t get distracted,” he said.
Smith ended his remarks with a couple of final observations. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
“It takes guts to walk with God. Be strong and courageous.”