An NFL sideline can be a dangerous place for players and coaches — just ask Pittsburgh Steelers special team coach Danny Smith.
The 70-year-old Smith will need surgery to repair a torn right rotator cuff after he was on the wrong end of a hit after Steelers safety Damontae Kazee was pushed into him by Green Bay Packers lineman Zach Tom at the end of the Steelers' 23-19 win Sunday.
Kazee had just sealed the victory with an interception just outside Pittsburgh's end zone on the last play of the game. As Kazee slowed down to go out of bounds after a 20-yard return, Tom laid the late hit on him, sending Kazee right into Smith, who went hard to the ground on his right shoulder. A scuffle kicked off around Smith, who couldn't get up due his shoulder going numb. It wasn't until tight end Rodney Williams came in and picked up Smith that he was able to get away from the fracas.
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"I've been hit a lot, and been hit hard," Smith said Thursday. "I got a lot of metal in my body over that. I got to learn to get the hell out of the way."
Smith, who has been with the Steelers since 2013, said that wasn't the first big hit he's taken on a football sideline. He broke his leg and needed a plate and screw in his knee while he was a coach at Georgia Tech. There was also a time during training camp he collided with former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and broke ribs and a vertebrae in his back.
Famously known as a gum chewer, Smith took the hit, but kept on chewing, as Williams noticed while he was dragging his coach away from the post-whistle scrum.
"I looked at him, he was still chewing it," Williams said. "I don't know how he was able to do that, but yeah, he was good."