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  • Why one Super Bowl XL Steeler alum kept his championship past a secret from his son by Tim Benz

There they stood for a photo op at Heinz field for the 10th anniversary of the Steelers’ Super Bowl XL championship. Big Ben. Fast Willie. The Beard. And of course the Bus.

Marvel Smith didn’t have a memorable nickname. In fact, if you asked the average Steeler fan to rattle off as much of the Super Bowl XL championship roster as they could, they’d probably go about fifteen or even twenty players deep before they got to Marvel. Maybe even guessing a few guys who left after 2004 or didn’t arrive until 2006 first.

And that’s too bad because #77 was a better player than that. Smith was the starting left tackle on that team, and a deserving Pro Bowler the year before. But, unlike many of the guys on that club who would go onto careers in radio/TV afterwards (Bettis, Randle El, Ward, Cowher, Starks, Taylor, Batch, Hoke…etc), Smith wasn’t much of a talker.


Always polite, but also always quiet, Smith never was one to bask in the spotlight of being on a Super Bowl champion football team. Not the spotlight cast by the media…and apparently not even the spotlight that would have been cast on him by his own son.

If you won a Super Bowl with the Steelers in Pittsburgh, do you think you may have mentioned that to your son? Think you may have the ring on display? A photo on the wall of your den? Think the most passive male ego would desire the look of admiration from your boy when you tell him tales of being on the 50-yard line of the championship game with confetti falling on your head?

Smith apparently didn’t need or want any of that…out of a fear of what extreme pressure that may put on his child, Kingston.

“If you came in my house, all my memorabilia, that was in boxes,” said a smiling Smith before the Super Bowl XL team was honored Sunday. “I didn’t want to put that kind of pressure on my son at a young age to live up that kind of standard.”

Kingston is now seven years old. And his father’s Super Bowl secret may still be preserved if his son wasn’t observant enough to recognize one of his dad’s teammates on television.

“My kids grew up with Troy’s (Polamalu’s) kids. So they always just looked at the Steelers as ‘Uncle Troy’s’ team. One day the NFL Network was on and they were replaying Super Bowl XL. And my son said ‘Daddy, come watch. Uncle Troy is on TV.’ So I thought maybe this the time I can actually sit him down and teach him about the game. This is the time where I can actually show him I played the game. This is how we live the lifestyle that we do.”

And apparently giving Kingston space has worked out as Smith seems to think his son has developed an interest in the game without being consumed by the idea of having to live up to the level of his father.

“He loved it (football)! But now…he’s all about basketball,” said Smith. “It’s cool to have your kids find something they love to do.”

And to be clear, this isn’t the latest commentary from an NFL player loathing the game that made him wealthy and now is vowing to steer his son away from walking the same path.

“I wasn’t scared of him playing,” stated Smith. “I told him I didn’t want him playing any type of tackle football until he was in high school. I didn’t play until I was fifteen years old. So he’s got plenty of time. It’s better to learn how to play the game when someone isn’t trying to take your head off. So he started playing flag football. And I told him, ‘You become the best flag football player you can become, then we’ll start talking about playing tackle football.’”

If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, then the Smith family may have another football “late bloomer” on its hands. If such a concept for a seven-year-old is possible. But he’d be one who decided he wanted to be a part of the game because he truly wanted to become such. Not because his Dad ever forced him down the path of the family business.

As memorable of a path that it may have been for Dad…and “Uncle Troy.”

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