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Malcolm Smith overcomes rare throat condition to win Super Bowl MVP

Malcolm Smith AP

After returning an interception of Peyton Manning for a 69-yard touchdown, recovering a fumble and being named MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith was asked what he ran for a 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

Smith politely pointed out he wasn’t invited to the combine.

One of the reasons Smith didn’t get an invitation was due to a serious medical condition that developed while playing at the University of Southern California. Smith was diagnosed with a rare disorder of the esophagus known as achalasia. The disease causes difficulty swallowing and regurgitation. For an athlete trying to remain in peak physical condition, that’s a major problem.

Smith was diagnosed with the disease in 2009 and detailed the struggles he initially faced to Michael Lev of the Orange County Register while playing for the Trojans.

Smith would frequently vomit while trying to eat and lost 30 pounds in the process. Once the disease was diagnosed, Smith underwent a surgical procedure to help ease the problems.

Smith ultimately fell to the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft before being selected by his former college head coach Pete Carroll.

Carroll fully understood Smith’s condition and the background to know the type of athlete Smith was. It’s still an issue Smith has to manage to this day. He has dietary restrictions and has to eat very slowly and deliberately to avoid vomiting. It usually takes Smith much longer to eat than his teammates.

Smith made it way on to Seattle’s roster as a valued special teams contributor and earned a starting job this season after Bruce Irvin was suspended for the first four games of the season. Smith then took over for K.J. Wright when he went down with a broken bone in his foot in December.

His play surged late in the season as he intercepted passes in four of Seattle’s last five games. His interceptions against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game and Broncos in the Super Bowl are now two of the most pivotal plays in Seattle franchise history.

And now he’s a Super Bowl MVP.

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12 Responses to “Malcolm Smith overcomes rare throat condition to win Super Bowl MVP”
  1. Mr. Wright 212 says: Feb 5, 2014 1:49 AM

    This is the type of thing I like to read.

  2. prspicacious says: Feb 5, 2014 1:55 AM

    Great background story. What a thrill for the young man to be on a Super Bowl winning team. MVP is icing on the cake. Sometimes dreams come true.

  3. vikesdynasty says: Feb 5, 2014 3:04 AM

    Awesome!! I can’t help but love this story even if I hate the seachickens

  4. pacificnw7722 says: Feb 5, 2014 3:10 AM

    Another “so called” misfit that Pete Carroll took a chance on and turned him into a super star.

  5. jshawaii22 says: Feb 5, 2014 3:52 AM

    and he was the MVP playing less than 1/2 of the defensive snaps. Less than 1/2!

    He really was the MVP, even though some want to slide it to Russell or Kam, this kid was all over the field and deserves it.

    Another great draft pick by the #1 GM and Coach.

    js

  6. meatcarroll says: Feb 5, 2014 4:45 AM

    I thought it was Peyton who had the esophagus condition. He has a propensity to habitually choke in January and February.

  7. coltsreign says: Feb 5, 2014 6:53 AM

    Didnt you guys say there should have been no mvp

  8. qdog112 says: Feb 5, 2014 7:02 AM

    Smith is a testament to the Seahawk’s superior scouting, player selection, player development and coaching.

    This organization has been the best in every facet of a professional football franchise.

  9. thegregwitul says: Feb 5, 2014 7:28 AM

    Good to see him to overcome his ailment and become a very productive football player.

  10. ravenswhat says: Feb 5, 2014 7:30 AM

    No team has drafted as well as Sea in the past 4 years. Period. End of story.

  11. zackd2 says: Feb 5, 2014 7:56 AM

    Congrats on reaching your dream of being in the nfl. Sounds like a great story

  12. itsunclepauley says: Feb 5, 2014 8:42 AM

    underlying message behind this and a hundred other Seahawks related posts in the last week:

    They are the champs because they have been far and away the best drafting team over the last four years.

    Doesn’t take long to turn a team around when you draft this well.

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