Editor's note: Over the next four days, Athens Daily News Banner-Herald sports editor Brad Zimanek will check in with the four members of the Super Bowl teams that are from the Athens area -- Atlanta's Chuck Smith, Denver linebackers coach Frank Bush, wide receiver Willie Green and left tackle Tony Jones. Smith, Green and Bush all attended Clarke Central High School while Jones grew up in Royston and attended Franklin County High School. Today: Atlanta defensive end Chuck Smith.
We obviously weren't always good, but we always wanted to win. Everybody wants to win in this league. There is no one in this league who says, `I want to be a loser.' It was tough playing for the Falcons in those years. Georgia is a football state and I'm from football country. I don't want to lose.
We had a lot of great players on this team who were never able to get to this level. It was tough getting up and going up against teams that you knew that you didn't have a chance in the game and that you still had to respect the game and yourself and still play hard.
We believe in (coach) Dan (Reeves). Dan's lost three Super Bowls. Cornelius (Bennett) has lost four. So they definitely know what not to do. ... So this week we're going to do what we think is right. I believe in Dan and I believe in what Cornelius is saying and what Eugene Robinson is saying. I respect those guys and whatever they feel is best for the team I'll do it. This is Dan's show.
You can't win this game by hanging out all night on South Beach. You can't win this game by accommodating every interview and being at every party. You have to do what we did all year. We are not a big party team. You have to be disciplined and say, `No.' We've broken a lot of molds as far as winning as a dome team and we are not going to be first-year fools on South Beach. I'm going to be focused and my body is going to be prepared 150 percent. I've waited forever. You don't think I used to watch Reggie (White) and Charles (Haley). I geared myself for this game. I didn't know when it was going to happen, but I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize that. If I go out and have a great game it's because I took care of myself. If I go out there and do not have a great game it's not because I didn't take care of myself.
Everyone's real excited to practice. And I'm glad we're practicing like that. I'm sure a lot of these guys would just want to be here hanging out, but we were so excited on Monday and Tuesday. We want our game plan to be crisp. This is the biggest game and we want to go out there and be polished.
The cream always rises to the top in this game. I always told people that one day I was going to get to the big dance and now people are going to have to deal with me. I knew I was going to get here one way or another. Even if I had to do what Deion did or what Andre Rison did. I was hoping it would be in Atlanta. And I prayed it would be in Atlanta. I'm from Georgia. I played at Tennessee. I'm playing for a lot of people and I'm also playing for myself. I just knew I would be here one day. Guaranteed.
It's going to be an emotional week, but it's an emotional for everybody. I've been through a lot in my career, but no way can I say I've been through more than some of these players. It's a good emotion and I'm glad we get to go through this emotional trauma. I'll take it every year if you give it to me.
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