NFL legend Bruce Smith to appear at Vail event
VAIL — Bruce Smith, an NFL Hall of Fame member, will be a special guest to honor Dr. Richard Steadman at Rock the Research on Monday at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.
This year’s event, featuring Grammy Award winner Darius Rucker, will benefit the research and educational programs of the Steadman Philippon Research Institute.
Smith, one of the most dominant defensive players in NFL history, first met Steadman as a patient in 1992.
“I learned very quickly that there was something about Dr. Steadman that exceeds the normal doctor-patient relationship,” Smith said. “He has a concern for each patient that is simply special. For me, he was like a ray of sunshine that brightens the moment. He’s an accomplished and remarkable man — unique and humble — and that’s why I wanted to attend this event.
“He also added at least five years to my career,” added Smith, who had three microfracture procedures performed by Steadman. “He protected me. He did not let them rush me back onto the field prematurely. I couldn’t have been more blessed to have a doctor who took care of me the way he did.”
After graduating from Virginia Tech and being drafted No. 1 in 1985, Smith played in the NFL 19 years — 15 for Buffalo and four for Washington. During his career, he earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1990 and 1996, was AFC Defensive Player of the Year four times and was chosen to play in 11 Pro Bowls. With the Bills, his team went to four consecutive Super Bowls. His number, 78, has been retired at Virginia Tech.
When he was enshrined into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009, he credited Steadman for preserving his career.
“Dr. Steadman and his colleagues at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute are pioneers and innovators,” Smith said. “They are constantly exploring new techniques that extend the playing careers of athletes and add to the quality of life of all their patients. For what they have done for me and thousands of others, I will be forever thankful.”
Smith and his wife, Carmen, live in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Bruce is passionate about his alma mater, Virginia Tech, and attends every football game. He is a commercial real estate developer and has built a 300-unit apartment complex/hotel near the campus. Their son, Alston, is a sophomore offensive lineman for the Hokies.