Malcolm Smith keeps his Super Bowl MVP trophy proudly displayed in his home office as a reminder for how far he's come as a football player.
Smith cemented his name in NFL history after he scored a pick-6 on a Peyton Manning interception, recovered a fumble and made nine tackles in Super Bowl XLVIII. The game has been remembered for the defensive dominance of the Seattle Seahawks, and Smith — a seventh-round pick in 2011 — was the player who shined most.
"(The trophy) is not hidden," Smith said with a laugh during a video call Saturday with local reporters. "You can see it. It's definitely cool for my family to have something like that attached to my name, and it's special, but overall, it's just a testament to the group we had and the work we put in and even myself individually."
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Smith, who signed a one-year deal with Cleveland last Sunday, is hoping to bring a similar mantra to the Browns' linebackers room. The nine-year veteran has 295 career tackles, 10 forced fumbles, six sacks, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries, and is now the most experienced linebacker on the roster.
Smith and B.J. Goodson are the only two Browns linebackers who have played in three or more full seasons. They'll be in charge of guiding the rest of the group, which has leaned on reps from other young players and lost Mack Wilson — entering his second NFL season after a promising rookie year — last week to a knee injury. He has yet to return to practice.
"It has been great with the team so far," Smith said. "It's a cool opportunity to have, especially with a new coaching staff here and some of the people I am familiar with. Obviously, the work the coaches have done and some of the players have done throughout the league, a lot of respect for a lot of the people here."
The linebackers room has taken an underdog mentality for 2020 due to its inexperience and youth. Before his injury, Wilson said he thought negative views of his linebacker teammates were "disrespectful" and weren't fair to guys who haven't had a chance to establish themselves at the NFL level.
Smith's background aligns with that mindset. He wasn't invited to the NFL combine and was selected 11 spots away from the final pick of the 2011 draft. He still managed to carve an important role on the "Legion of Boom," one of the most memorable defenses in NFL history and become one of nine defensive players to win Super Bowl MVP.
"That is always something that I think about," Smith said about his low draft profile. "Since that day, it has been on my mind. I think that was the biggest chip once I got started in the league. That is always going to be with me as a badge of honor at this point."
Smith will have three weeks to adjust to his new city and teammates before Week 1. His role in team drills has slowly increased through his first week in Cleveland, and his presence alone will be a nice addition to the position.
Browns linebackers want to rise above expectations this season. With Smith, Cleveland has a player who is known best for doing just that.
"I'm just trying to add my sauce and bring what I can to the mix," Smith said. "That has been my thing so far and trying to impart whatever wisdom I have on the guys in the room and take what I can from them. Just trying to build every day."