Random Athlete Of The Day- Rod Smart
As one of the highest-profile players to come out of the XFL (Vince McMahon’s gloriously ridiculous experiment of a sports league) Rod Smart lives on in the memories of many football fans. After playing for Jack Harbaugh at Western Kentucky and failing to gain a foothold with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent, Smart was picked up by the Las Vegas Outlaws with the 357th draft pick in the XFL’s 2001 draft. In his first (and only) season with the Outlaws, Smart finished second in the league in rushing with 555 yards (adding on an additional 245 receiving yards as one of the league’s few dual-threat running backs).
He was not known solely for his football exploits; indeed, he is almost entirely known for his unique nickname. Rod Smart was one of the first players to take advantage of the XFL’s policy allowing players to put whatever name they chose on the back of their jersey. So, to show all the ‘haters’ that he had what it took to be an all-star XFL player, Rod Smart became “He Hate Me.” Among a group of players using such bland or uninteresting nicknames such as “Super-C” or “Hurricane,” “He Hate Me” stood out from the rest and quickly became a fan favorite. His game promo truly speaks for itself:
Smart credited the hype surrounding his nickname with enabling him to eventually reach his goal of playing in the NFL. After one game with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL and six games with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2001, his biggest impact came during the next four years with the Carolina Panthers. Smart appeared in 47 games for the Panthers, starting as their primary kick returner for three years beginning in 2003. He scored his only touchdown on October 5, 2003 with a 100-yard kickoff return against the Saints and participated in Carolina’s Super Bowl XXXVIII loss against the Patriots. Attempting to continue his career after leaving the Panthers, Smart signed with the Raiders in 2006 but retired from the NFL after an injury in the preseason.
With his playing days in the past, Rod Smart is pursuing an acting career – according to IMDb, his first acting credit came in 2010 with “Don’t Blame the Lettuce.” Along with reigning XFL MVP Tommy Maddox, Smart was among very few players to have a significant NFL playing career after the XFL folded at the end of its inaugural season. If there are any XFL fans left out there, I’m sure that they appreciate Rod Smart’s contribution to both the XFL’s enduring notoriety, and the greatest trivia question of all time: “What was the real name of Las Vegas Outlaws running back ‘He Hate Me?’”