Eagles’ DeVonta Smith Sends Special Message: ‘You Want the Honest Answer?’

DeVonta Smith

Getty Eagles WR DeVonta Smith has blossomed into a star on and off the field during his second season in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith might be the most unassuming star athlete in the city right now. Not only does he not hog the spotlight, but he doesn’t necessarily want it. The 6-foot, 170-pounder known as The Slim Reaper could have walked incognito through Dick’s Sporting Goods in Moorestown, New Jersey on Monday night if the management team there didn’t announce him.

Smith was the store’s surprise guest of honor, greeting children from the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County and taking them on a shopping spree to pick out winter coats. Each kid received a $250 gift card, plus memories that will last a lifetime from one of the NFL’s best rising young talents. Smith was standing off to the side near a check-out register when a fan asked him to pose for a picture. He did it, without hesitation — although there was a nervousness and uncomfortableness hidden behind his mega-watt smile.

When this reporter asked him if he was warming up to his new-found celebrity status, Smith said: “You want the honest answer? I don’t like it. I’m kind of used to it now but I don’t really like it. I like to be low-key.”

Smith prefers to stay under the radar which is a refreshing change of pace from the crowded world of sycophants and ego-maniacs dotting the professional sports landscape. He’ll get used to it, eventually, right?

“Nah,” Smith said. Right then, a kid came up and asked the Eagles playmaker to sign his football gloves. Which he did, as the kid walked away and whispered: “I didn’t expect him to be that tall.” Smith laughed and started throwing the pigskin around the store as the cameras snapped photos, then explained why it’s important to serve the community.

“I want to be able to give back,” Smith said. “Where I’m from [Amite City, Louisiana], the same thing, just always looking for a way to bless somebody. When I was young I had a guy around my area who did the same thing. I just want to provide the same thing for others.”

That guy was Cletis Gordon who went on to suit up in 31 games at cornerback over a six-year NFL career. Smith just wants to keep paying it forward.

“Philadelphia is home, so just being able to able to connect with the people around here,” Smith said. “Being able to provide for them and things like that. This is somewhere I want to be for my entire career so I want to be out there in the community helping people.”

Smith Sends Eagles Fans Super Bowl Message

It is only going to get harder for Smith to fade into the background as he sets new career highs seemingly every week. Smith hauled in 5 balls for 126 yards against Chicago, the second-highest total of his short career. He is now on pace for 1,100 yards and 86 receptions in 2022. Those 86 catches would tie him for the 5th-best single-season mark in franchise history.

But individual goals aren’t the thing on his mind after 13 wins and 1 loss. Smith wants to bring a Super Bowl home to Philly, his new adopted home where he understands the fanbase’s insane passion and the city’s unwavering support.

“It would mean a lot,” Smith said. “I mean that’s, ultimately, I feel like that’s probably everybody’s goal in the NFL right now, but to be able to bring it to Philadelphia, a place where everybody is a Philadelphia fan, where they are probably either from Philadelphia or from around the area, I know that it would mean a lot to the City of Philadelphia and it would mean a lot to us.”

Smith has been around a lot of winning during his 24 years on this earth. He won two national championships at the University of Alabama, plus he became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy in three decades. Winning is in his DNA. Luckily, it’s imprinted all over the Eagles’ locker room.

“One thing I can say about all the teams I’ve been around is, that’s been winning at a level like this, is everybody is like family,” Smith said. “Everybody was connecting, everybody was always trying to make each other better. So just everybody being there for each other. Everybody was connecting, even outside of football, everybody was connecting. Whether it’s guys going bowling, guys going out to eat, and things like that, it always felt like family.”

No Fakes: ‘Very Generous, Humble Person’

Smith stuck around Dick’s Sporting Goods for nearly 90 minutes, signing autographs and posing for pictures with anyone who mustered the courage to ask. After the event, the former first-round pick made sure to shake every kid’s hand and send them home with a smile.

Bernadette Shanahan, CEO for the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County, talked about the impact the unassuming, sometimes shy star athlete had made on everyone there.

“For me, it’s all about the kids and it’s everything just to see their faces,” Shanahan told Heavy, “and to know that somebody in the community really cares and wants them to have something a little extra special for the holidays. It was amazing. It’s a great opportunity. We’re very grateful to DeVonta and to Dick’s, and to everyone who arranged this.”

The kids were also treated to hot meals from Chick-fil-A and as many free interactions as they wanted with Smith. All of them were natural and unrehearsed, according to Shanahan.

“He seems to be a very generous and humble person,” she said. “He’s really nice, kind of shy actually.”


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