If you Googled Malcolm Smith on Sunday, the first name that came up was that of a Canadian off-road racer.
The second? Malcolm Smith of the Seattle Seahawks, your unlikely MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII. He was so unlikely, in fact, that he was lumped in the field at Las Vegas Sportsbooks that offered prop bets on who would be the winner of the award for the game.
Smith was a seventh-round pick by the Seahawks in 2011. He’s had quite the postseason, being the player who came down with the Colin Kaepernick pass that Richard Sherman deflected in the NFC Championship Game that iced Seattle’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Smith joins other unlikely game MVPs such as Larry Brown of the Dallas Cowboys (1996) and Dexter Jackson of the Tampa Bay Bucs (2003), both coincidentally also defensive players.
Smith, whose brother Steve played for the played for the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams, didn’t have the easiest road to Super Bowl MVP.
In his senior season at USC, he was diagnosed as having achalasia, a rare disease of the esophagus that hinders swallowing, causes regurgitation and makes nutrition a daily challenge. It afflicts about 1 in 100,000 people. Smith learned that he had been stricken by the illness in January 2009, when USC was on its way to the Rose Bowl.
"I was losing maybe two pounds every week," Smith told the Orange Country Register while a senior with the Trojans. "Food wasn’t going down. It would get stuck. I would throw it back up."
A surgical procedure called a Heller myotom has helped. Smith, however, has dietary restrictions: He has to eat slowly, takes a sip of water between every bite. He rarely eats rice, tuna or his beloved peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.
"It’s definitely something that a lot of people still don’t understand to this day. They’re like, ‘Why are you eating by yourself?’ " said Smith, who often eats alone to make sure he gets a complete meal without feeling rushed.
"The people that know, they’ll sit down with me. Those (other) guys are like, ‘What’s he doing over there?’"
He not only is part of a team that is best in the world, but in the game that proved it he stood out among everyone.
Smith’s moment wasn’t without a bit of a bizarre incident. During his post-game press conference an intruder — believed to be a "Truther" or 9/11 conspiracy theorist — grabbed the microphone and uttered some words before being ushered away.