Akili Smith

Akili Smith

Infobox NFLactive
currentteam=Free Agent

caption=Akili Smith at the Calgary Stampeders 2007 training camp
birthdate=birth date and age|1975|8|21
birthplace=San Diego, California
debutteam=Cincinnati Bengals
* Cincinnati Bengals (1999-2002)
* Green Bay Packers (2003-2004)*
* Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2004-2005)*
* Frankfurt Galaxy (2005)
* Calgary Stampeders (2007):*Offseason and/or practice squad member only

Kabisa Akili Maradufu Smith (born August 21, 1975 in San Diego, California) is a former professional football quarterback for the CFL's Calgary Stampeders who also formerly played for the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League. He was the third overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft after fellow quarterbacks Tim Couch and Donovan McNabb. Despite the initial hype surrounding his success as the quarterback at the University of Oregon, he did not fit in with the Cincinnati Bengals, and played only two games in 2001 and was cut in 2002. He was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in June 2005.

College career

Smith rocketed to the foreground of draft discussions because of his stellar performance in his senior year at Oregon, throwing 32 touchdown passes in only 11 starts at the college level. Prior to that, Smith graduated from Lincoln High School, the alma mater of Marcus Allen and Terrell Davis.

Pro career

1999 Draft

At the 1999 NFL Draft, Smith faced stiff competition from other rising quarterbacks. In a year when five quarterbacks would be drafted in the first round, Smith was the third quarterback and third player selected overall by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Cincinnati Bengals

Prior to his drafting there was a huge effort by the New Orleans Saints head coach Mike Ditka and management to get the Bengals' high draft position so the Saints could get Ricky Williams. The final offer, which was refused by the Bengals management, was for 9 draft picks, several extra in this year as well as many in the next year. Instead of taking the trade, the Bengals stuck with their initial decision to draft Smith, who, while undeniably athletic -- he had also played some professional baseball -- was still largely unproven, having only impressed at the college level for one season.

Smith missed large periods of 1999 pre-season training with the Bengals due to contract disputes; many pundits later speculated that his absence from this short training period hurt him immensely in the seasons to come. Despite incredible shows of athleticism in his early games, he failed to grasp the Bengals playbook fully, and never established himself with the team. Throughout the four years he was with the Bengals, he would only start in 17 games, eventually leading to his outright release in the 2002 season.

Smith joined other highly drafted Bengals players such as David Klingler, Ki-Jana Carter, and Peter Warrick who as a result of injury, bad work ethic, bad management and coaching decisions, or simply poor performance, failed to live up to the high expectations that came with being selected early in the first round. Such picks are considered a major reason for the Bengals' dismal performances during the 1990s and early 2000s.

Green Bay Packers

In 2003, Smith tried out as Brett Favre's backup, but again failed to mesh with the team. In 2005, he was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a visit to NFL Europe where he started 4 games for the Frankfurt Galaxy.

Calgary Stampeders

In 2007, Akili Smith signed a two-year contract with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, where he was expected to compete for the starting quarterback job with another former NFL player, Henry Burris. After a fairly underwhelming debut in an exhibition against the Edmonton Eskimos, Smith played extremely well in the final exhibition against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Though listed going into the game as the third-string quarterback, Smith completed three touchdown passes in only a half of play, including one to former NFL player Marc Boerigter.

In his first regular season action, replacing Henry Burris in the 2nd quarter on July 12, Akili struggled mightily against the Toronto Argonauts. He finished 6/10 for 63 yards, 0 TDs and 3 interceptions. He also lost 1 fumble. Smith was pulled at the end of the half.

After an unimpressive showing against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on October 8, 2007, going 4 for 12, for 37 yards, along with the impending return of a healthy Henry Burris, the Calgary Stampeders released Akili Smith on October 10, 2007. [ [http://www.tsn.ca/cfl/news_story/?ID=220281&hubname=cfl TSN.ca] ]


External links

* [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=1603429 "Akili Smith Misses Cut as Favre's Backup"] from ESPN (August 26, 2003)
* [http://www.cfl.ca/index.php?module=roster&func=display&ros_id=1137 Akili Smith] at CFL.ca
* [http://www.footballdb.com/players/akili-smith-smithak01 Akili Smith at The Football Database]
* [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/1999/nfldraft/video/akili_smith.html CNNSI.com Draft Video]

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