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Schwartz: Kevin Smith is the “best story in the NFL”

Kevin Smith AP

Here’s what Lions coach Jim Schwartz had to say about running back Kevin Smith after he put up over 200 yards from scrimmage and two scores on the Panthers:

“There’s a lot of great stories in the NFL, and I’m sure there’s a lot of storylines today,” Schwartz said via the Detroit News. “But I think the NFL would be hard-pressed to find a better story than Kevin Smith.”

Mark Herzlich starting (and playing well overall) last night for the Giants was pretty cool. But we can’t really argue with Schwartz here.

Smith was the most likable member of the 0-16 Lions. He gave great effort every week and never seemed to give in to the misery. Smith has struggled even more in the years since.

He tore his ACL in 2009 and never seemed fully recovered in 2010. Smith couldn’t find an interested team this offseason. The Lions signed every scrap heap back possible before turning to Smith: Keiland Williams, Mike Bell, Eldra Buckley, and Jerome Harrison have all been on the roster. They tried to trade for Ronnie Brown.

When the Lions finally called Smith three weeks ago, he made sure he was ready.

“It’s not really tough, if that’s your will,” Smith said. “I’ve always believed in myself and my ability. I’ve had some tough breaks injury-wise. But I believe in myself. When I was getting up and going to train, and I’d kiss my son and walk out the door, there really was no motivation.”

Smith was so overcome by emotions that he had to take a moment to gather himself on the bench Sunday. It was a powerful moment, but the Lions aren’t into charity cases. Smith’s re-emergence could help solve the team’s long-struggling running game.

It makes you wonder why the team didn’t call Smith earlier.

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54 Responses to “Schwartz: Kevin Smith is the “best story in the NFL””
  1. Nikhil Balakumar says: Nov 21, 2011 6:27 PM

    great story, always nice to hear about guys making comebacks despite injuries

  2. ocdn says: Nov 21, 2011 6:29 PM

    One of the best feel good stories of the year.

  3. bearsstillsuck says: Nov 21, 2011 6:29 PM

    if he lasts the rest of the season and still plays well, then ill be impressed.

  4. jtfresh1 says: Nov 21, 2011 6:35 PM

    Did anyone else notice Tony Scheffler doing his Lions TD celebration on Sunday? He was imitating the commercial where the guy in grand central station started the flash mob dance too early. It was a classic!

  5. jtfresh1 says: Nov 21, 2011 6:37 PM

    And I’ve got my fingers crossed for the Lions the last 6 games of the season — Packers, @Saints, Vikings, @Raiders, Chargers, @Packers … yikes!

  6. redbullenergydrink says: Nov 21, 2011 6:38 PM

    Great game you had, Kevin. You sure surprised everyone including members of your own team! Keep it up! Beat Green Bay!

  7. claymatthewsisonsteroids says: Nov 21, 2011 6:41 PM

    Nice to see good things happen to good people.

  8. hendeeze says: Nov 21, 2011 6:42 PM

    Schwartz is lucky the wind didn’t make an appearance

  9. commandercornpone says: Nov 21, 2011 6:42 PM

    i will probly take the points on turkey day, figuring detroit will shake down the pack.

    but i see detroit losing in weeks 13, 16 and in week 17 – if the pack wants it.

    the schedule seems kind to the bears. i see them going 11-5 even with hanie. take the unders.

  10. babyjesus69 says: Nov 21, 2011 6:44 PM

    I would take Alex’s story over Kevin Smith’s any day of the week. Especially since Alex has done it for the whole season, not just one game cause the opposing defense had no tape on Kevin.

  11. seageo says: Nov 21, 2011 6:44 PM

    Great Story BUT……

    Overcoming Cancer > Overcoming ACL tear

    Not even remotely close

  12. caffeene says: Nov 21, 2011 6:48 PM

    It was 3 scores… 2 rushing 1 Catching

  13. poundtherock says: Nov 21, 2011 6:48 PM

    Alex Smith might have the best story in the NFL this year. He had an entire city give up on him and downright HATE him. They wanted him gone. Everyone lost faith in him except himself. Now he’s leading a team to the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade and will almost definitely be signing a long-term deal.

  14. readysethike says: Nov 21, 2011 6:52 PM

    althought this is not related to the story but Tony Scheffler has the most ugly and entertaining TD celebrations

  15. wegonnadoitbaby says: Nov 21, 2011 6:54 PM

    Love the story…best story…debatable…but everyone’s rooting for the guy so hopefully he can keep it up.

    Redemption is the theme of men, and by nature, transferred to sports. We love the downtrodden to become a winner.

    How else would we get to engage in our second favorite pastime…bringing them down afterwards?

  16. snarkzilla says: Nov 21, 2011 6:59 PM

    Rex Ryan Jr. must have missed a lot of well written profile pieces I’ve read about remarkable people, like James Starks for instance.

  17. innerlign says: Nov 21, 2011 7:02 PM

    much props to K. Smith on his comeback. Inspirational, really.

  18. readysethike says: Nov 21, 2011 7:02 PM

    this man was a beast at UCF, good to see him doing well, but he has to be consistent

  19. eyesofdisarray says: Nov 21, 2011 7:05 PM

    babyjesus69 says:
    Nov 21, 2011 6:44 PM
    I would take Alex’s story over Kevin Smith’s any day of the week. Especially since Alex has done it for the whole season, not just one game cause the opposing defense had no tape on Kevin.

    Alex Smith is 30th in yards per game. Yes he has drastically cut back on the interceptions but what is he really doing statistically that he hasn’t done in years previous? And please don’t say winning because SF’s winning has to do with a lot more than A. Smith.

  20. primetime0552 says: Nov 21, 2011 7:10 PM

    Notice how he said “today.” He wasn’t referring to the entire year, but thay particular day. Smith is definitely the come back/feel good story of the year.

  21. blackbug99 says: Nov 21, 2011 7:14 PM

    I love these tales but, I’m going w/Fred Jackson. He’s had to overcome the AFL, Europe and Buffalo to get respect.

  22. nflfollower says: Nov 21, 2011 7:18 PM

    It’s a good story b/c despite the entire NFL including his former team ignoring him, he ran and worked out every day to keep himself in shape—-amazing discipline. To come back on this short notice and contribute like that? Amazing. Also never lost faith in himself, despite everybody seemingly forgetting him.

    It’s a testament to his work ethic, people in Detroit always knew about that, there were doubts about his ability. Definitely looks like he’s fully recovered now from that knee. The time away seems to have done him some good. Couldn’t be happier for him.

  23. Soulman45 says: Nov 21, 2011 7:21 PM

    CS had a good game only one lets see what happen down the road.
    I think the Lions need 4 more wins to get a seat in the playoff.
    I had them going 10-6 now I am hoping for 11-5 what a wonderful year for
    THE GREAT DETROIT LIONS

  24. fuzzebear says: Nov 21, 2011 7:26 PM

    Kevin Smith was never a bad back and they shouldn’t have given up on him when he tore his acl. Good for him.

  25. howiehandles says: Nov 21, 2011 7:42 PM

    I’m sure Smith is a good story, but beating cancer is a bit more life and death.

  26. straightbiznesses says: Nov 21, 2011 7:52 PM

    Lets see him top 100 yards on a defense thats not the Panthers

  27. straightbiznesses says: Nov 21, 2011 7:54 PM

    I still think Steve Smith (Car) is a better story

  28. lilrob10201 says: Nov 21, 2011 8:02 PM

    jtfresh1 says:
    Nov 21, 2011 6:35 PM
    Did anyone else notice Tony Scheffler doing his Lions TD celebration on Sunday? He was imitating the commercial where the guy in grand central station started the flash mob dance too early. It was a classic!
    ————————–
    Yea I am supprised the TD wasent called back.

  29. phillychzstk2012 says: Nov 21, 2011 8:03 PM

    uhh im pretty sure its a little tougher to cure oneself of bone cancer rather than a bad knee. he’s not the only player to come back from an ACL tear..listen, i respect the guy but no way his story outshines Herzlich’s. and im an Eagles fan

  30. thejuddstir says: Nov 21, 2011 8:14 PM

    I think Smith’s performance speaks for itself and every fan of the NFL is aware of it……we certainly didn’t need Schwartz to point it out to us other than the fact that Schwartz is getting more n more like Rex Ryan…….he loves to hear himself talk and can’t seem to find a camera or microphone he doesn’t like. He didn’t seem to be that way up until this year so I wonder what made him “change”.

  31. vanmorrissey says: Nov 21, 2011 8:25 PM

    Exactly right. I wondered why the team did not hold onto him after he was the best player on a terrible team. For that alone he deserves a BIG bonus.

  32. swarlesbarrkley says: Nov 21, 2011 8:32 PM

    Great story, but I’m sure he will be deemed dirty by the end of next week…

  33. swive says: Nov 21, 2011 8:50 PM

    He was in pretty good shape, but not great shape, his first tour of duty with the Lions. This time, he’s got a lot more burst and wiggle. He appears to be in great shape, and was making people miss yesterday. That would seem to be the difference.

  34. tdrundmc says: Nov 21, 2011 9:23 PM

    shut up about alex smith, the guy is captain check down.

  35. rmc1995 says: Nov 21, 2011 9:23 PM

    Why is Alex Smith in this conversation? I fail to see the feel good story with him. He’s not the reason the niners are winning but he’s finally the reason they are not losing. If not been for a lockout he may have been at the very least making 7 figures as a backup somewhere. He would have still been in the league probably fighting for a job. He wouldn’t have been waiting 9 weeks for a phone call or NFL pay check.

  36. eaglesnoles05 says: Nov 21, 2011 9:36 PM

    I always thought jahvid best was drafted to be a good change of pace back to split with smith, who was a stud with injury issues that needed a good backup. Suprised they let him go in the first place, and lucky to get him back. He looks fressssssh as hell out there. Superb add by lions. And fantasy teams.

  37. jgrossi2210 says: Nov 21, 2011 9:49 PM

    He didn’t tear his ACL. He tore all three of the major ligaments in his knee, similar to the Dante Culpepper injury in 2005 in against the Bengals. The triad injury as it is called is one of the toughest in sports to recover from. Its even tougher for a running back. You have to rehab each ligament individually.

    He injured it at the end of 2009 season. Now here he is finally healthy, hungry and in the best shape of his life.

    Good for you Kevin! Way to overcome adversity. Love the fact your on our team.

  38. cereal blogger says: Nov 21, 2011 10:18 PM

    who ???

  39. camjon32 says: Nov 21, 2011 10:19 PM

    poundtherock says:
    Nov 21, 2011 6:48 PM
    Alex Smith might have the best story in the NFL this year. He had an entire city give up on him and downright HATE him. They wanted him gone. Everyone lost faith in him except himself. Now he’s leading a team to the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade and will almost definitely be signing a long-term deal.

    Yeah…you keep thinking that Alex Smith is the reason the Niners are 9-1…

    Probably has nothing to do with the best front 7 in all of football…

  40. lionsfanatic84 says: Nov 21, 2011 10:26 PM

    “Smith was the most likable member of the 0-16 Lions. He gave great effort every week and never seemed to give in to the misery”

    So Megatron catching 1,300 yards from 5 different qb’s and not playing the full season wasn’t likable? I’m not taking away from K Smith, he is a hard worker and I am so happy for him to be back and looking better than ever, and his mentality is very likeable, but I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call him the most likeable. Anyhoo, lets hope he can continue running well!

  41. zaggs says: Nov 21, 2011 10:50 PM

    Mark Herzlich by far. Last I checked no one has died from a torn ACL. Bone cancer on the other hand….

  42. canesfan56 says: Nov 21, 2011 10:54 PM

    I believe he lead the nation in rushing his senior year in college.

  43. bleedgreen80 says: Nov 21, 2011 11:07 PM

    he looked better yesterday than he looked coming out of college

  44. djp141 says: Nov 21, 2011 11:09 PM

    200 yards from the line of scrimmage is about average for a RB playing against the Panthers this year.

  45. rubbernilly says: Nov 21, 2011 11:12 PM

    It seems like speed players aren’t the same 1-year out from ACL surgery, if they get back at all. After a year, they get back to playing, but they’re not up to speed or as agile as they were before the injury. It seems to take another half a year or even another full year before the guy is all the way back.

    Hopefully this means that Smith is back to his former self… but there are still too many variables to say for sure.

  46. skins23 says: Nov 21, 2011 11:35 PM

    Not when you had Maurice Morris in fantasy last week.

  47. snarkzilla says: Nov 22, 2011 12:35 AM

    It’s always good when guys come out of the shadows and prove their worth. It’s one of the very best things about pro football. But for something more inspiring, Google [Packers' Starks becomes guiding light for his hometown].

  48. bcb1999 says: Nov 22, 2011 12:45 AM

    Wow, calling Jerome Harrison a scrap heap back right now just doesn’t sit well with me…

  49. Chris says: Nov 22, 2011 1:20 AM

    straightbiznesses says:

    Lets see him top 100 yards on a defense thats not the Panthers
    ____

    He actually went over 200 yards and 3 scores, I don’t care who you are and what team your playing that is still a tremendous performance

    As for those saying cancer survivor > ACL comeback, I think your missing the point. This story is not about overcoming an injury or disease, its about a young man who believed in himself when no one else did and took the opportunity he was given and made the most of it

    Congrats to Kevin Smith and I hope nothing but the best for him!

  50. johngaltwho says: Nov 22, 2011 3:58 AM

    First – one successful game does not qualify as a great comeback story and second – Schwartz has lost all credibility to point out what does or does not constitute inspiration. If he is the source – every late hit from suh represents “great effort” and every errant throw from Stafford represents “hurricane force winds”.

  51. raidermark says: Nov 22, 2011 7:58 AM

    I like the story better where Jim Harbaugh itch slapped him after tat game!

  52. steeelfann says: Nov 22, 2011 8:44 AM

    Yea, what about the Pacman Jones Story, huh? Poignant.

  53. easyeddie says: Nov 22, 2011 9:03 AM

    poundtherock says: Nov 21, 2011 6:48 PM

    Alex Smith might have the best story in the NFL this year. He had an entire city give up on him and downright HATE him. They wanted him gone. Everyone lost faith in him except himself. Now he’s leading a team to the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade and will almost definitely be signing a long-term deal.

    ——————————–
    Sorry, but Smith isn’t “leading” the Niners to the playoffs. Their defense is.

  54. vickspuppy says: Nov 22, 2011 10:59 AM

    Here’s a better story – The Lions brought only 7 wins into the highly anticipated showdown with the undefeated Packers and left with those same 7 wins. This was supposed to be a battle of two 10-0 teams on Thanksgiving.

    What’s the matter Detroit, couldn’t live up to your own hype?

    Packers 42, Lions 27

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