Before giving the speech, President of the university Dave Purshing, with the approval of its board of trustees, presented Alex with an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.
Smith is a unique individual as he is not only a gifted athlete, but a gifted mind. He delivered a very inspiring speech, one in which he lists his advice as prescriptions because, after all, he is a doctor.
Alex preached three things to the graduating class,
- identify my weaknesses
- embrace the new
- letting go of what I cannot control
He goes on to explain how each one of these three “prescriptions” have helped him get through the toughest times of his life. At one point in the speech, he literally has the whole crowd boo him, to give them an idea of what it’s like to embrace discomfort. He even took an old Colin Kaepernick jab at himself when telling the crowd what to boo at him saying,
“And have fun with it,” Smith said while telling the crowd how to boo, “yell out some of your other favorite QB names. I don’t know, a Manning? Maybe a Brady? If you’re feeling really creative, a Kaepernick.”
Smith showed some sense of humor in all of his misfortune. He even mentioned having seven different offensive coordinators in seven different seasons. Alex was loose in this speech, and you really get a good grasp of what kind of gentleman and leader he is.
The part of the speech that was really gripping to me was when he talked about letting go of what you cannot control. Smith elaborated on having to ride the bench during the 2012 season.
I thought I had silenced all of my critics, when I really got tested. I thought I had put all those hardships, from early on in my career, behind me and now I was on track, so close to the success that I had always dreamed of. We were in the midst of a Super Bowl year and I was playing the best football that I had ever played and I got benched after getting a concussion. I was so close to the ultimate validation in my sport, the Super Bowl, and instead, I watched it pass me by from the sidelines. In fact, the only time that I actually set foot on the Super Bowl field was for the coin toss, because I was still technically a team captain.
At the pinnacle of his career, he was stripped of his title due to injury and watched his dream be crushed right in front of his face. But Smith goes on to explain how he handled the situation,
What I want you all to understand is this, we’re all going to strive for success and I hope you all achieve it, but the truth is, at some point, you’re going to find yourself on the bench and you’re going to have two choices; one, you can sit and sulk and feel sorry for yourself or you can accept what you cannot control and you can refocus your energy, preparing yourself for the next opportunity life brings you.
Truly powerful words and the man practices what he preaches. Smith did nothing but work hard to master his craft in 2013 with Kansas City. And as the season progressed, Smith only got better.
Sometimes in sports, certain individuals get to have their moment. They overcome so much adversity to reach the top and it always makes for a story too good for Hollywood to script. Perhaps Smith is next on that list and that all his same advice he just gave, will get him back to the top of his profession. He deserves to be a champion, and I hope he achieves it with his time in Kansas City.
I don’t know about you, but as a former offensive lineman, I would go to war with Alex Smith as my quarterback any day.
You can check out the entire speech below and I highly recommend it, as we can all take something useful from the advice Smith gives and use it in our own lives.
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