Strange, by any name

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

Every Monday a Sun staffer gets to know a prominent sports figure a little better in Up Close. This week, Kirk Penton goes into the backfield with new Bombers running back Joe Smith, who made his debut yesterday at Canad Inns Stadium:

The Sun: Why did your parents name you Joe when your last name is Smith?

JS: I have no idea. My whole name is Joseph O'Brien Smith. My mom liked it. It has a nice ring. It's a good name.

TS: Do people often ask you what your real name is when you tell them you're Joe Smith?

JS: Let me tell you what happened. This is a funny story. The day I met my wife, I was out with another friend by the name of Joe Hall. So we introduced ourselves, and she was with two of her other friends. I said, 'My name's Joe,' and he's like, 'Yeah, my name's Joe.' So all three of them looked at us like, 'No, we're not buying this. You have to show some ID, right now.' We had to whip out our ID so they'd believe our names were Joe. So yeah, a lot of people ask me if that's my real name.

TS: Where did you meet your wife?

JS: In Tampa, right before I went to NFL Europe. She don't like my version of the meeting, but I love my version. My version is she eyeballed me from the time she saw me. She eyeballed me on the way out the door. Now, her version is different. Her version is I came up to her asking her about some food, because we were starving. True enough, we were starving. And we had asked everybody in the vicinity about some tacos, because I was from Texas and my friend was from California and we were craving tacos. And she looked at me and said, 'What do you think I am? I don't know about tacos.' So it was a really funny meeting, but after that we went on a few dates and we're married now, so it was good.

TS: Some people might get the impression that you're not a big football fan, because you say it doesn't define who you are, but you must like it. What do you like about football?

JS: My whole thing about football is playing. Playing football is very exciting. The adrenaline rush you get from it is like none other. You can feel the adrenaline from yourself, you can feel the adrenaline from the other guys, from the fans when they get loud and scream. That's the fun part about football. Outside of football, as far as football still being fun, it gets you out into the community and you see people with smiles on their faces when they meet you, the kids wearing your jersey and saying, 'I want to be you! I want to be you!' That's what brings the enjoyment out of football for me.

TS: You're a different cat, but does it bother you when teammates call you weird, like B.C.'s Angus Reid did last year?

JS: Nah, people all my life have probably said, 'You're a weird cat.' One of my best friends from college, Mark Hall, when I first went to New Mexico Military Institute, the whole team looked at me because I had knee braces, forearm pads, elbow pads, a neck roll and goggles. Everybody looked at me like, 'Where did you get this guy from?' And (Hall) was one of the main guys talking to me, and we ended up being really good friends and roommates. I think everybody at some point in time has said, 'Man, that guy is weird.' Even my wife, when she met me, said, 'He's weird. No, I'm not interested. He's so weird.' I guess the weirdness got to her.

TS: What do you want to do after you're done playing football?

JS: I just want to sit on my couch, be lazy, work on my garden and have kids. I'm looking forward to that. Other than that, just keep doing what I do right now, which is being an entrepreneur. That's basically it. Because after (football), I don't think I would be one to go punch a clock.


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