A second-round pick in the 2007 National Football League draft, Giants wide receiver Steve Smith was just a blip on fans’ radar until he caught five passes in Big Blue’s 2007 Super Bowl victory. This season, he emerged as the team’s top receiver, with 72 catches for 683 yards as of week twelve. Born in Alaska and raised in Los Angeles, Smith starred at the University of Southern California before packing his bags for the East Coast.
The 24-year-old now calls North Bergen home and enjoys all things Jersey, from trips to the Garden State Mall to dining at restaurants in nearby Edgewater. He’s also become a New York Yankees fan and has hooked up with Yankee manager Joe Girardi’s Catch 25 Foundation to help support families and individuals with ALS, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and fertility issues.
Had you ever been to New Jersey before the Giants drafted you in 2007?
My first time was after I was drafted. I thought I was going to New York because it’s the New York Giants, so that was kind of weird. It was a little disappointing, but then I saw how much rent was in New York compared to New Jersey!
What’s the biggest difference in life on the East Coast?
Out here, everything is all on top of each other, and people are just a little different, a little more serious. Out there, it’s like sunshine all the time, [you’ve] got rims on your car. It gets really cold [in New Jersey], but, you know, at least you get to see all the seasons.
What’s it like being a receiver to a quarterback like Eli Manning?
I love playing with Eli. He is a true professional and has a great football mind, coming from the family he does. This is our third year together, so we know each other pretty well and have an unspoken communication on the field, where he sort of knows where I’m going to be, and I tend to know where he’s going to throw.
This year, you’re the Giants’ top receiver. That has made the defenses tougher. How have you had to adjust your game?
I’m studying film harder, trying to stay after practice and get better, work on my craft, be the best player I can be. If I get double-teamed the whole game, I know somebody else will be open.
You’ve been among the league’s top pass-catchers all season. Are you surprised about your stats?
What do you have to do to keep improving? I’m not really surprised with the stats, but I’m happy about it. I just have to keep working hard. Every week, you have to stay healthy and keep working hard; you can’t get complacent.
You’ve built up a network of 50,000 fans on your Facebook page. What’s the motivation behind that?
It’s a great way for me to connect [with fans] on a level other than them sitting in the stands or just watching the game on TV. It’s a way for me to talk to them, ask them questions, and even have them ask me questions. Whenever I have a thought, it’s so easy, it’s like texting on your phone. Those [posts] are just fun, trying to get my face out there and show them that I’m interested in what they talk about and the feedback that they give me.
How do you judge when to keep your opinions to yourself?
It’s about the team. All that stuff, you keep within the house. You don’t give out information like how you’re feeling about certain things. You can’t be too opinionated. Whatever you put out [on Facebook], you put out for everybody to see. You have to be smart about what you say.
What are your game-day preparations?
I just chill out and stay mentally at ease for the game.
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