By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith grew up in Falmouth, Virginia, the oldest of seven children and he knew more than a little bit about what it took to raise a family.
Until he had his own children Smith didn’t know all that went along with it, however.
“Oh [fatherhood] has had an impact on me,’’ Smith, who begins his first year with the Eagles, after four years with the Baltimore Ravens and two with the San Francisco 49ers, said. “I grew up with a lot of siblings, and kind of played the father figure role, but it’s not like having your own kids.’’
Smith and his wife, Chanel, have two young sons, Torrey, known as T.J. who is three years old and Cameron, who is one.
“I look at I’m responsible for teaching them and giving them the knowledge they need in life to be successful,’’ Smith said. “Showing them love, and disciplining when needed. That’s all my responsibility and it’s a lot. But I love it.
“Before I had my kids, I never understood the big deal. I didn’t know what my mother was saying,’’ Smith said with a laugh. “Now, I get it. I understand it now. Your primary concern is their safety. We live in a crazy world. There’s a lot to worry about, but again I love all that goes with it.’’
It isn’t easy for Smith, nor any NFL player, to raise a family with the demands that come with the game. The long days, especially during training camp, and throughout the regular season, the travel, the need to focus on your trade to be the best you can be.
“It’s tough,’’ he said. “My wife does an amazing job with them, which helps me keep my mind on football during the season. Sure, you miss out on certain things because of your schedule. And then there are the little things. Like when I was at training camp this summer, I came out of camp and my kid was a completely different kid. It happens quick. I can imagine what it’s like for a military man.’’
Smith tries to make up for his time away during the season during the offseason, or when he gets a day off. Those are already marked off for family time.
“When I have free time, I spend as much of it with them,’’ he said. “During the offseason, or even on our off-day, I try to be with the kids, plus it gives my wife a little break.’’
Smith takes his sons to museums, parks, and on a recent day off he took them to a miniature golf park, which he laughs when he says was a real experience for one-year-old Cameron. And there are other times when he takes the kids to work.
“(Being in the NFL) we do have opportunities ,’’ Smith said. “I’ve been able to bring my son, T.J., in on off-days. It’s pretty cool; it’s like a family environment. All three teams I’ve been with have allowed you to do that. And the league seems to have encouraged that, too. And it’s great. It’s all about family. And to have him there is great. They embrace him, everyone, from the cook to the coaches. And he loves it. Just the other day he was asking me about Carson (Wentz, the Eagles second-year quarterback).’’
Smith, who founded the Torrey Smith Family Fund in 2011, has been involved with helping families in need through educational sources such as mentoring programs, reading rooms and scholarships. Now, he gets the chance with his own family.
“Because of this time period, and there are stressful times,’’ Smith said. “You just to value every moment you do have.’’