Canadian Football League

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Stamps sign new Canadian Football League QB

Akili Smith put down the ''For Sale'' sign to pick up a football again.
The third overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1999 NFL draft didn't want to continue his career in real estate in San Diego without giving football one more shot.
He's taking that shot with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders.
The 31-year-old from San Diego signed a two-year contract and worked out at Calgary's free-agent tryout camp Thursday.
''I've got a lot of football left in my tank,'' Smith said. ''I only have 22 games played in the NFL.

''I am fortunate and blessed as far as the finances are concerned. I just have that burning desire to play football. I'm here now trying to get a starting job.''
Smith threw 32 touchdown passes in 11 starts in his senior year at Oregon to earn the attention of NFL scouts.
The NFL draft Saturday is headlined by JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, but eight years ago, Smith was one of five pivots taken in the first round.
The Bengals made him the third overall pick behind fellow quarterbacks Tim Couch and Donovan McNabb. Smith was taken ahead of Daunte Culpepper at No. 11.
''That was a big day and it was a blessing,'' Smith recalled. ''There's not too many people who are fortunate to be among the top picks. ''
That was the high point of Smith's tenure in Cincinnati. He missed some of the Bengals' training camp in a contract dispute, but eventually agreed to a deal with a reported $10.8-million US signing bonus.
He played only 17 games in four years in Cincinnati before he was released. He completed 215 of 461 passes for 2,212 yards, five touchdowns and 13 interceptions there.
''It didn't work out for me,'' Smith said. ''I got to start my second year and I didn't play well, and then after that I played one game in my third year and one game in my fourth year and after that I was pretty much done.''
The Green Bay Backers gave him a chance to become Brett Favre's backup in 2003, but let him go. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave him a look two years ago, but he didn't stick.
''Once you're out of the loop, it's pretty tough to get back in,'' Smith said.
Smith's last game was two years ago with NFL Europe's Frankfurt Galaxy.
The six-foot-three, 220-pound pivot still has a powerful, accurate arm and that was on display Thursday at McMahon Stadium.
He insists the CFL isn't a route back to the NFL for him.
''I'm not thinking about the NFL. I'm out here to play Canadian football,'' Smith said.
Henry Burris is Calgary's starting quarterback and Smith has to navigate the learning curve of Canadian football in order to take that job away from Burris.
''No matter how good a guy's tools are, we've seen a lot of guys come up in this league with a lot of credentials and they can't do it,'' Stampeders general manager Jim Barker said. ''We're never going to know until we get to exhibition season, watch him in those, watch how he reacts in a regular game.
''His role is to challenge Henry Burris as the quarterback. Henry is our starting quarterback. We expect Henry to elevate his game. The better Akili is, the better Henry is going to be.''
Smith feels he's gotten a fresh start both personally and professionally. He was married Saturday before coming to Calgary and says his wife Tiesha makes sure he stays in shape.
''Being a bachelor in the NFL can be pretty tough,'' Smith said. ''You got so many people coming at you with business cards and all different types of opportunities and things like that. It is pretty distracting.
''Now that I'm locked down, I'm a lot more focused. I should be able to succeed out here hopefully.''
Calgary also signed defensive Lineman Alonzo Jackson and linebacker Matt Grootegoed on Thursday.


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