Slain CNY Football Star ‘Comes Back to Life’ for NFL Playoff Game
The memory of former Proctor High School, college, and pro football star Will Smith, who was gunned down in 2016, came back to life Sunday at his former NFL team's playoff game. And maybe the spirit of Smith helped, as the New Orleans Saints defeated Carolina 31-26.
Reggie Bush, another former Saints' star, wore Smith's #91 jersey during a pre-game ceremony, leading a number of former Saints onto the field.
Called "Utica's Superman" by one former coach, Smith was a dominant defensive end who won a Super Bowl as a player with the Saints and a national championship as a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes following his graduation from Proctor High School in 1998.
Smith was one of the team's leaders when they won the 2009 Super Bowl, an emotional godsend to the New Orleans community in the aftermath of the devastation the area suffered from the horrible power of Hurricane Katrina.
Smith's assailant, Cardell Hayes was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2016 shooting.
The Saints' next playoff game is Sunday, January 14, against the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis.