THE ROCKIES may beplaying in the NLCS (page 38) while the Broncos are scuffling at 2--3, butDenver is still a football town. And the Rockies know their football: ManagerClint Hurdle, bench coach Jamie Quirk, outfielder Matt Holliday, first basemanTodd Helton and pinch hitter Seth Smith were all big-time high school and/orcollege quarterbacks. Hurdle (Miami), Quirk (Notre Dame) and Holliday (OklahomaState) accepted Division I football scholarships before eschewing college forbaseball's minor leagues. Helton played (mostly as reserve) at Tennessee,starting three games as a junior in 1994 before injuring his knee and losingthe job to Peyton Manning. Smith also backed up a Manning—Eli at Ole Miss.
THE GLUT OF FORMERQUARTERBACKS, the Rockies say, is coincidental, but Helton (as a Volunteer,left, and a Rockie) believes that having coaches and players with aquarterback's mindset has helped during Colorado's run. "When you'regetting ready for a football game, that's it—you only have one game to get thejob done," he says. "That's what playoff baseball is like."
Smith's rise toplayoff prominence is even more improbable than the Rockies'. On Sept. 15 the25-year-old outfielder had never played a big league game. He'd also dislocatedhis shoulder two weeks earlier in Triple A. But called up for the stretch, hewent 5 for 8 as a pinch hitter, including a triple in the play-in game againstthe Padres, and then had a key single in Game 2 of the NLDS.
The 6'3",215-pound Smith says he never quite had the head to be an NFLquarterback—"Eli's grasp of the game was incredible," he recalls of hisdays as Manning's backup. "His arm strength and accuracy were better thanmine, but not by leaps and bounds. But it was baffling sitting in meetings andseeing the stuff that he'd pick up on." The rookie does, however, have agreat QB's cool—"We put him in pressure situations, and he came throughevery time," Quirk says, explaining the decision to include him on theplayoff roster. Says Smith: "I brought that focus from football. Aquarterback can never get caught up in his emotions. You have to have an evenkeel and just play the game."
October 14, 2007
The Pop CultureGrid
|How do sports stars fit in?||Celebrity I'd like to kiss||Thing I dislike most about my appearance||My cellphone ringtone is ...||If my life were on reality TV, I'd call it ...||You can judge a man by ...|
|CHRIS SNYDER D-Backs C||Jessica Alba||Absolutely nothing||Upside Down (Jack Johnson)||Daddy Day Care||The way he treats a woman|
|JUSTIN FORSETT Cal RB||Alicia Keys||My toes||Weak (SWV)||The Simple Life||His character|
|KYLE PETTY NASCAR||Audrey Hepburn (top) in Breakfast at Tiffany's||Scar on my left butt cheek||On vibrate||Surviving Without Having a Job||His children|
|BEN OLSEN D.C. United MF||Kate Hudson||Too many to choose just one||I'm Too Sexy (Right Said Fred)||Life with Megan (his wife)||His shoes|