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Ex-Duck goes north to find his old form.

Byline: Adam Jude The Register-Guard

Akili Smith Kabisa Akili Maradufu Smith (born August 21, 1975 in San Diego, California) is a former professional football quarterback for the CFL's Calgary Stampeders who also formerly played for the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League.  was done. And he was OK with that.

Content to put his tumultuous professional football career behind him, Smith returned home to San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay.  two years ago following another failed comeback attempt. For the former Oregon quarterback, retirement from football meant quality time with friends and family, as well as a new career in real estate.

Turns out, he could only stay away for so long.

"I went to play pickup basketball with some buddies one day (last winter), and we ended up throwing the football around," Smith said. "I kept telling my buddy to back up some more. I was feeling pretty good."

He also looked pretty good, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 friends and family, who convinced Smith to contact his agent, who then reached out to teams in the Canadian Football League Canadian Football League (CFL)

Major Canadian professional gridiron football organization, formed in 1958. The league's Western Conference includes teams from Edmonton, Calgary, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Winnipeg; its Eastern Conference comprises teams from
 to gauge interest in the former first-round NFL draft The NFL Draft (officially the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting[1]) is an annual sports draft in which National Football League (NFL) teams take turns, through seven rounds[2]  pick.

The Calgary Stampeders For the defunct hockey team, see Calgary Stampeders (hockey)

The Calgary Stampeders are a Canadian Football League team based in Calgary, Alberta. The Stampeders play their home games at McMahon Stadium.
 soon responded with an offer, and Smith signed a two-year contract in April, thankful for one last chance at redemption.

"I just hope to be successful," he said. "I'm praying every night to have the same success I had at Oregon, when throwing three TDs and 300 yards a game was nothing."

Four games into the CFL CFL Canadian Football League  season, Calgary is 2-2, but Smith has yet to supplant veteran starting quarterback Henry Burris Henry Burris, Jr. (born June 4, 1975 in Spiro, Oklahoma) is a professional Canadian and former American football player. Burris plays the quarterback position with the Canadian Football League Calgary Stampeders. . He said he's happy simply enjoying football again, which is something he didn't do in his well-chronicled disappointment with the Cincinnati Bengals
    The Cincinnati Bengals are a professional American football team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL).
    , who drafted Smith third overall in 1999 - with a $10.8 million signing bonus A signing bonus or sign-on bonus is a sum of money paid to a new employee by a company as an incentive to join that company. These are often given as a way of making a compensation package more attractive to the employee e.g. if the annual salary is lower than they desire.  - before releasing him in 2002.

    "No matter what happens, I still was blessed to be the third pick in the draft. No one can ever take that from me," he said. "Everyone knows what happened in Cincinnati. I didn't play well, and I'll be the first to say that. We really didn't play well as a team, but as the quarterback, you take responsibility."

    Smith's frustrations continued in brief stops with Green Bay and Tampa Bay Tampa Bay, inlet of the Gulf of Mexico, 25 mi (40 km) long and 7 to 12 mi (11.3–19 km) wide, W Fla., separated from the Gulf by numerous small islands; it receives the Hillsborough River. St.  (he was cut by both), and, in what he thought was likely his last hope, a 2005 stint with the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe that lasted just six games.

    Having failed in Europe, he said, "I thought I had put my cleats up for good." Admitting he was "blessed" financially, he was ready to move on.

    While in Europe, Smith was intent on proving to NFL NFL
    National Football League

    NFL (US) n abbr (= National Football League) → Fußball-Nationalliga
     teams that he was more than a draft-day cautionary tale. Two years later, his approach has changed - and he hopes his game will eventually follow.

    "I felt that way when I went to Europe, but now I don't feel that way," he said, noting his goal isn't to use the CFL as a springboard for another shot at the NFL. "I'm just out here having fun. It's great to be back in the locker room and being around the guys. That's what I really missed."

    Smith said he regularly banters with teammate and former Oregon State tailback Ken Simonton about the Beavers and Ducks. He said he has also enjoyed catching up with former UO teammates Jason Maas (Hamilton Tiger-Cats) and Pat Johnson (Toronto Argonauts).

    In his most significant action this season, Smith threw three interceptions in one quarter in a loss to Toronto two weeks ago, against a defense that featured former Ducks Kenny Wheaton and Michael Fletcher and is directed by former UO defensive coordinator Rich Stubler.

    "It's been kind of tough to adjust to the game here," said Smith, who in two games has completed 12-of-25 passes for 132 yards with no TDs and four interceptions. "There are 12 guys on field, three downs and the field is wider. It's totally different than American football. ... But the bottom line is I still love to line up and play."

    Despite the vast adjustments, Smith said he's beginning to grasp the game again. He said the Canadian rules benefit a mobile quarterback, and he's eager to once again display his versatility.

    "I'm happy with development," he said. "The game is coming in slow motion, and I'm so thankful that I'm getting to that point again."

    Even at his age - he'll turn 32 on Aug. 21 - Smith said he believes he can play for "six or seven years" in the CFL.

    "I haven't played much in the last five years. My body is still fresh," he said.

    When this latest, and last, comeback is over, Smith said he'll send out resumes in search of any coaching job he can find.

    Anything to be content again.
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    Title Annotation:Sports; Akili Smith makes another comeback attempt with the Calgary Stampeders
    Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
    Date:Jul 28, 2007
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