Rod Smith, on making the Denver Bronco Ring of Honor, after being undrafted, cut once as a rookie free agent, and managing to get a roster spot on the Broncos as a special teams player before eventually starring as a wide receiver:
"I was hungry. I stayed hungry -- I'm still hungry now. There is something about the human spirit; you just have to be hungry 24/7. A lot of guys now, and I'm a little bit on the outside, not too far removed, but a lot of those guys figure they have it made because they got to the NFL. The hardest thing is staying in the NFL, especially staying in as long as I did with the path that I had to take. I embraced the path and I didn't worry about the path. I knew where I wanted to go and I knew I was going to outwork everyone else. When they were gone, I was still working. When they were asleep, I was still working.
"That right there -- work works. I tell people that all the time, work works.
"I wanted to be the best teammate I could be. I knew if I was better, it made our team better. And thanks to [coaches] Mike Shanahan, Mike Heimerdinger, Gary Kubiak, Brian Pariani, Bobby Turner, 'Rico' [Rick Dennison] and all the offensive coaches and the defensive coaches. Coach [Bob] Slowik and a lot of the coaches, Ed Donatell, just all the coaches I ever played with -- they all had a hand in me being a better person and made me a better athlete on the field for the Denver Broncos.
"I watch a lot of young guys and they get all this money and they feel like they've arrived. Three years later you're looking for them. You have a flashlight in the daytime trying to find them because they think they've arrived. The work starts once you get there. My path to get there was hard and I sneaked up on my locker to make sure that my name was there for one more day. I don't see that with a lot of guys right now.
"But honestly, their careers are going to be short. Not that they don't have talent. Talent is what you're born with, skills are what you earn. You go out and develop that and I don't see a lot of guys working on their craft and developing skills. It's just hard to watch, but at the same time, I'm not in there. I'm not in that arena, so I just sit back and I'm like, 'Man, that guy has all that talent, and it's going to waste.'
"I just pray they all get it as far as figuring it out that this is a business and you have to treat it like a business and go in there, go to work. You have to clock in and sometimes you don't clock out. In the NFL, I never clocked out. The day I clocked out was the day I retired. Hopefully that'll help somebody understand that it's a dream business and you want to wake up when you want to wake up. Don't let them wake you up. That was just kind of my approach."