Bucs RB/KR Clifton Smith is enjoying all aspects of his Pro Bowl trip to Hawaii, both on and off the field
*Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie running back Clifton Smith traveled an unbelievable path in 2008.
Smith joined the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent in May and spent the first half of the 2008 season on Tampa Bay's practice squad before being called up to the active roster in late October. From that point on, incredibly, he exploded onto the scene as one of the NFL's most dangerous return men.
Smith posted 1,316 total return yards – the second-highest total in team history – and became the first player in team history to score on both a punt and a kickoff return. As a result, he was named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad as the team's return man, the first Buccaneer ever to fill that position in the all-star game. Smith became just the third NFL player since 1970 to be selected to the Pro Bowl in the same year he entered the league as an undrafted free agent.*
Along with cornerback Ronde Barber and guard Davin Joseph, Smith is in Hawaii to represent the Bucs in the league's annual all-star game set to be played this Sunday. Linebacker Derrick Brooks was also selected for the Pro Bowl but will not play due to pre-existing injuries.
Smith has been to the 50th state before; his alma mater, Fresno State, visited the University of Hawaii on occasion. But this trip across the Pacific will be a unique one for the Bucs' rookie, and he has agreed to share the experience with Buccaneer fans. Smith arrived in Honolulu on Monday and will be doing a running diary on Buccaneers.com throughout the Pro Bowl week, detailing his experiences in Hawaii up to and even after the game.
Here is the second entry in Smith's "Pro Bowl Diary:"
"Things have been going well out here in Hawaii. Today after practice was over, [Packers safety] Nick Collins and I went over to a local elementary school for a 'Play 60' event and had a great time. We played flag football with the kids and hung out.
"That might have been my favorite part of the trip so far, doing the 'Play 60' event and hanging out with the kids, just goofing around. I'm a big kid, so that was right up my alley.
"Today was the first time my family came out to the practice field. I got to see my family today for the first time in a while. We came back to the hotel and laid out by the pool and hung out for a while.
"My dad and I had dinner Thursday night. Actually, I played golf with my dad on Wednesday and we're going to play golf again on Friday. As far as the rest of the family, I really didn't get a chance to do anything exciting with them yet. But on Friday, I'm going to hang out with them all day. I'm going to take them down to Waikiki beach. I guess there's a lot of hangout spots and restaurants down there. Then a couple of my boys that played for the University of Hawaii, [Dolphins wide receiver] Davone Bess and [Redskins quarterback] Colt Brennan, they're going to show us around to a couple different spots. I'm going to take my cousins out on the town tomorrow night.
"Now that I've gotten to see a little bit of the area, it's interesting. Hawaii is a beautiful place, but you see some things you wouldn't expect to see in Hawaii. You see the glamorous parts of Hawaii when they promote the Pro Bowl and you see it on TV, but then driving down the road, you see some homeless people living on the beach. It's kind of crazy.
"As for practice, everything is real laid back. Practice is about 40 minutes long, and I sit on the water cooler for about 30 minutes. I get out there and do something for the last 10 minutes of practice, but I'm living the life of a specialist right now. It's pretty fun. I'm not going to lie; it's pretty fun.
"Today was the first time that the Cardinals players got to practice, so it was really exciting to see those guys out there. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get a chance to talk to them about their Super Bowl experience.
"I've been out here a few days and the game is coming up soon, but I feel pretty much the same. I don't think I feel any more or less nervous, at least until Saturday night and Sunday morning when it's time to get up and go out there and actually play. I probably won't get too much more anxious until Saturday and Sunday when it's time to get up and go out there and hang out with the guys and go have fun.
"Not a lot of people play hard in this kind of game, so you try and figure out what speed you want to go at in this game. But then again, you want to play hard so you don't wind up getting hurt yourself. We'll see how this one plays out, but I'm definitely going to go out there and play hard because the MVP gets a free Cadillac. So I'm going to play hard.
"I'm aiming for the MVP."