In February 1992 the Falcons traded Brett Favre to the Packers for a '92 first-round draft choice, which Atlanta used to select running back Tony Smith, who had played in the same backfield with Favre for two seasons at Southern Mississippi. Now Favre is a three-time league MVP making $6.8 million a year, and Smith, 28, is trying to jump-start his NFL career.
"I wouldn't say [the trade] has been a blessing or a curse," Smith said last Friday after a minicamp practice with the Eagles. "I've got nothing but love for Brett. Things happen for a reason."
Having played in a standard pro-style offense at Southern Miss, Smith wasn't suited for Atlanta's run-and-shoot attack. Though he showed flashes of brilliance as a return man, Smith was released early in his third season. In December 1994 the expansion Panthers made him one of their first signees, but he broke his leg during a preseason game in '95, spent the year on injured reserve and was released during training camp in 1996. Smith finally got back in football in '98, landing a job with the CFL's Toronto Argonauts and being used as a return man and short-yardage back. In February he had an impressive tryout with the Eagles, including a 4.5 time in the 40, which earned him one more NFL opportunity—in a weak backfield behind incumbent Duce Staley.
"I never thought I'd get another shot at the NFL," the 6'2", 225-pound Smith says. "I realize this is my last one, but I love my chances."