Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith is as multifaceted on the field as he is off. He carries many titles, including friend, Pro Bowler, Oklahoma Cowboy, “brother from another mother” (to teammate JJ Watt), Smith might just secretly be a samurai ninja. At a recent meet-and-greet, he sat down with ALH and fansto share insight on life as he sees it.
The “Ninja Assassin Sack Slash of Death” as Smith calls his move when he sacks a quarterback isn’t a hoax to gain popularity amongst fans or boast his 33 career sacks. Rather, the move was a culmination of a suggestion from former teammate Mario Williams and Smith’s own alter-ego.
“It came from a collaboration. I mean I’m a big Kung-Fu, karate, you know, action-flick guy,” Smith said. “The movie came out called ‘Ninja Jackson’ and he was awesome, kind of like I am, you know, in martial arts. Mario said, ‘You should try that [move] in a game.’ So I did. I got a sack, I did it, and it just went from that.”
It’s no coincidence the name of Smith’s move is also associated with his opinion for “one of the best ninja movies to watch,” the 2009 American martial arts film entitled “Ninja Assassin.”
Two young boys in attendance questioned his “ninja” status and to their surprise, Smith answered with confidence. If hypothetically his position was to play an offensive linesman, he wouldn’t be nervous playing against skilled defensive end J.J. Watt because he “knows all of J.J.’s moves” and is “a ninja, a real ninja.”
While one of the secrets stated in The Way of the Ninja: Secret Techniques is that a ninja eats brown rice, Smith easily passes this qualification. “My favorite food would probably be sushi,” Smith said.
His social media profiles showcase pictures of sushi rolls and sashimi at different Japanese restaurants he favors. Other functions of a ninja include espionage, sabotage, infiltration, training and not always working alone, which can fare quite similar to when players study opponent’s tape, execute difficult plays, and train with teammates.
In terms of weapons, Smith notably sacrifices his body and will take on a double team so that teammates Brooks Reed or Watt can make a sack. Ninjas also tend to have disguises, and for Smith, one might catch him off the field in cowboy attire: Gator boots and a cowboy hat. But on the field and on one of his Texans profile pictures, his ninja headpiece is in full force.
Regardless of his ninja qualifications or amount of forced fumbles, tackles and sacks accumulated over his eight-year career, Smith told ALH this:
“What you don’t know about me is…I’m a big teddy bear.”
Just don’t go around calling him Teddy Smith. You might get karate chopped.