In a revealing and startling interview on ESPN on Friday, former Euclid High, Ohio State and Minnesota Vikings standout running back Robert Smith spoke for the first time about his issues with alcohol.
Smith, who won the Associated Press Mr. Football award in 1989 and ’90, discussed growing up with a “drug-dealing” father, and admitted he is an alcoholic.
“The house was chaotic, and as I grew up I had a basic understanding of what addiction was, and I knew it was inheritable,” Smith said on ESPN. “I did my best to stay away from it early.”
During the interview, Smith said his addiction to alcohol began at Ohio State and increased during his stellar career with the Vikings. When he retired after the 2000 season, he was Minnesota’s all-time leading rusher. In 2012, Adrian Peterson surpassed Smith.
Smith said during his ESPN interview after his playing days were complete he sought counseling, and for a period was sober, but he eventually went back to drinking.
“I think that’s the difficult part of mental illness,” Smith said. “You have a mind that’s telling you that you don’t have a problem. And you start to feel better, then you feel you don’t need (counseling) anymore. You have a period of sobriety, and you think you’re cured, but you don’t graduate from alcoholics school.
“Alcohol beat me into submission. I went a number of rounds with alcohol and alcohol kept winning, and I kept trying to get my stubborn self back up and trying to fight it.”
Married with a daughter and son, Smith said he’s been sober since the birth of his son. His decision to come clean on ESPN was inspired by former Vikings teammate Cris Carter’s inspirational speech at last August’s Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement. Carter also battled alcohol issues during his playing days, but is now sober.
Said Smith, “If you don’t deal with (alcoholism), it will take you down and take down the ones around you. It’s a living death. Absolute misery.”
Smith is a college football analyst for ESPN. Article Link “News Herald”…