Monday, May 20, 2024

I slid into their DMs: Mayobridge man Charlie Smyth recalls first steps on road to NFL dream

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The Mayobridge man told Late Late Show host Patrick Kielty how he first approached the NFL.

Co Down man Charlie Smyth was last week signed by the New Orleans Saints after navigating the NFL’s tailor-made scheme for international recruits to secure a three-year deal with the franchise.

The Mayobridge and Down star told RTÉ’s Late Late Show host Patrick Kielty how he had made a bold attempt to bypass the last four years of his life by approaching the NFL directly, firing off an email to their enquiries inbox and sending them a message on Instagram.

“I had literally just finished my A-Levels and I DM’ed their Instagram page as well. Nobody got back to me, unsurprisingly,” he said.

“I just went for it. I’d been a huge fan of the sport and now it’s actually happened. It was having the vision and belief from a young age that I could do it, and then the opportunity arose I really went for it and gave it my full focus.

“I had to drop the football, which was tough to do, but whenever this came about, it was made for me. I just went at it; I’m really, really enjoying it and I can’t wait to get back out.”

Smyth in action for the Mournemen during the 2021 Ulster U20 football championship. Pic: ©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

A primary school teacher, trained in Irish medium education, Charlie is also the first Irish speaker to join an NFL side.

He had recently returned to St Mary’s University College, where he completed his degree, to undertake a Masters, but things have changed somewhat.

“I qualified last year and this year I’m doing a Masters,” he said.

“The other days I was training either in Dublin or subbing in local primary schools and secondary schools. Life has changed a wee bit since then.

“It was great the way it worked out; I’d just finished, I had no permanent job, no ties or anything. A lot of flexibility with university. I could say no to work to come and train down south. It’s just been great.”

Smyth has been signed to the Saints’ practice squad, and should he remain there for the entire season, he will earn a minimum of $216,000, as per league rules. However, if he wins the top job, he could earn substantially more.

Smyth in action during this year’s Combine. Pic: ©INPHO/USA TODAY Sports/Kirby Lee

The Saints current kicker, Blake Grupe, is coming off his rookie season, where the 25-year-old was 30 from 37 on field goals and 40 from 40 on extra points last year.

The Saints play their home games at the 76,468-capacity Caesars Superdome, which will also host the Super Bowl next February.

Mayobridge, meanwhile, opened their Down ACFL campaign just hours before Smyth’s appearance on the Late Late, losing out 1-7 to 0-8 at home to St Peter’s Warrenpoint.

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