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Soccer Match


Hailing from the heart of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Rod’s lifelong passion for football ignited back in the 9th grade.  During his formative years at Roseville High School, he didn't just excel in one sport – he conquered three: football, basketball, and track. Imagine an all-conference basketball player and a three-time state champion in Track and Field, boasting dominance in the 100M, 200M, and long jump, all in 1987. But it was football that truly stirred his soul, making him the stuff of legends at Roseville Area High School. In 1987, he claimed the coveted title of Minnesota's Mr. Football, earned the honor of Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year, and found himself on the Football Parade All-American team. Not to be outdone, Rod was also an Honor Roll graduate, proving his brains matched his brawn.

His incredible journey led him to the University of Notre Dame on a full football scholarship, where he pursued a Bachelor of Arts in economics. The zenith of his college career came in 1988 when he played an instrumental role in the Fighting Irish's triumphant national championship victory under the guidance of Coach Lou Holtz. To this day, the '88 squad is hailed as one of the most remarkable undefeated teams in college football history. In 1992, Rod's star shone once more as he delivered an exceptional performance in the Sugar Bowl, securing a historic upset victory against the #3 Florida Gators with 18 tackles.

The transition to the NFL saw Rod chosen as the 35th pick in the 1992 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. He didn't just enter the league; he burst onto the scene, earning the prestigious Rookie of the Year title. His presence played a pivotal role in the Patriots' transformation from a 2-14 team in 1992 to a formidable 10-6 contender by 1994. Rod had the privilege of learning from the legendary Bill Parcells, an experience that not only shaped his career but also left a lasting impact on his life.

In 1995, Rod embarked on a new adventure, becoming the first pick in the expansion draft and joining the Carolina Panthers as an Original Gangster (OG). His time with the Panthers was marked by success, as the team achieved a remarkable 7-9 record in their inaugural season, setting an NFL record for most wins by an expansion team. In 1996, the Panthers reached new heights, clinching the NFC Western division with a stellar 12-4 record and securing a spot in the NFC championship game.

Today, Rod calls Charlotte home, where he continued his education, earning a Master's degree in Organizational Management. His commitment to giving back remains steadfast as he actively supports local charities and serves on the board of trustees for the Speedway Children's Charities. Rod's love for football shines through as he volunteers as a flag football coach for a local Parks and Recreation Youth Sports organization.

Beyond sports, Rod is a dedicated runner and yogi, passionately advocating for health, wellness, and the art of graceful aging. He shares this passion through captivating speaking engagements, addressing a wide spectrum of topics, from achieving mental and physical wellness to recounting his extraordinary sports journey. Additionally, Rod shares motivation and Football IQ on TikTok and YouTube under Rod Smith Official.

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