It was almost a year ago that Anthony Smith, the then-second-year Steelers safety, uttered these words as the team prepared to face the Patriots: "Yeah, I can guarantee a win." Of course, he qualified by adding, "As long as we come out and do what we got to do," but not many people were interested in the entire quote since it was barely newsworthy.
At the time, I didn't put much stock in pregame guarantees, and I still don't. But there's no denying that the Patriots targeted Smith all afternoon, and he was directly responsible for two New England touchdown passes.
It wasn't just the Patriots who took advantage of Smith's over-aggressiveness, though; opponents regularly targeted the free safety, and head coach Mike Tomlin had to bench him late in the year. As long as we're dredging up painful memories, it was Smith's replacement, Tyrone Carter, who David Garrard outran for a first down on a critical late-game fourth-down play during the AFC Wild Card matchup.
"If they ask me again, I'll say the same thing,'' [Smith] said Thursday night after the Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 27-10 at Heinz Field.
Pretty innocuous, frankly, and Smith's words won't have any effect on the outcome (the Pats targeted him last year because he was the defense's weakest link; the usually laconic Bill Belichick even had some post-game thoughts: "We've played against a lot better safeties than him, I'll tell you ... The safety play at that position was pretty inviting.'' Ouch.), but why even mention it?
We can blame the media for beating this story into the ground -- and that's perfectly acceptable -- but that's their job: to find news, even where none exist.
This preseason, Smith did promise to tone things down, and, to be fair, we haven't heard much from him in three months (sitting on the bench will do that). And while his (non)comments are hardly inflammatory, he'd probably be better off just saying nothing.