Smith no ordinary Joe

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Off-season training methods can be tedious, so Joe Smith incorporated one of his favourite hobbies into this year's workout.

At home in Houston before the CFL season, the B.C. Lions running back would take his Dobermans on long walks and hunt for lucky pennies along the way.

Known as a frugal guy, Smith would keep up the hunt until there was some jingling in his pocket. Then he'd head home to dump it into a big jar.

"When it got full, I counted it up, and there was close to $100," said the 28-year-old.

"It's good to get exercise and get some money."

Upon arriving in Vancouver last year, Smith quickly found out there are these places that give you cash for empty plastic bottles, so he's been known to walk through the Lions locker-room with a bag collecting them.

These are just a couple of examples of how unique a man with the most common of names actually is.

Smith owns a company that sells customized dogtags -- a lot of Lions have them. He takes public transit everywhere he goes. And he tells people to call him on a teammate's cellphone, so he can save precious minutes on his own plan.

"A lot of guys like to spend money on clothes and cars and other stuff," said the Louisiana Tech product who's in his second year in the CFL.

"The things that matter to me aren't what matter to other people. The things that matter to me are travelling and having fun. I just closed on a house.

"I spend my money where I need to spend it."

That house is in Houston, where his fiancee, Andrea, is going to school.

They plan on getting married during next year's bye week, but they must wait until the schedule is announced to make plans.

Smith argues having all these responsibilities is where his thrifty ways come from. Once he becomes a CFL free agent, his negotiations are going to be tough.

Before last night's game against Calgary, fans may have been able to spot both Smith and right tackle Jason Jimenez on the train.

Jimenez, who has known Smith since 2003 when they were in college, has had some of the running back's economical ways rub off on him.

"That's nothing to do with being frugal -- I'm pragmatic," said Jimenez, who refuses to spend money on gas in Canada. "Joe's frugal. (In the U.S.), gas prices are about 70 cents a litre, but it's $1.09 up here.

"It's easy for me to get to where I need to go. Why drive, when I can stay and get a few more minutes sleep? I don't have to fight traffic. On game days, I let the fans park out there and try to get in and out."

Another way Smith has found he can get ahead is to win contests. A few years back, he won a trip to Paris, which was ideal because one of his goals is to see the world.

So every time he passes an entry box for a prize, he enters his name as many times as possible. Of course, sometimes the people holding the prize draw scoff at multiple Joe Smiths on entry forms, especially if there is no phone number.

Smith keeps entering anyway.

"A lot of them let you do as many as you want," Smith said. "If it's there, I will enter it. A lot of times, they're just doing it to collect names and numbers so they can sell it to telemarketers.

"I actually thought about doing that one time but couldn't make it work."


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