- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith, who pleaded guilty to DUI in 2009, spoke publicly on Wednesday for the first time about drinking too much and climbing behind the wheel -- at a Manhattan event sponsored by, of all things, a beer company.
Smith participated in a 60-second public service announcement that can be viewed on YouTube, asking fans to “Stay in the Game” and make smart decisions not only on Super Bowl Sunday, but also throughout the year.
“It was pretty simple," Smith said of his DUI. "It was after dinner [in Virginia Beach]. After dinner with business partners and some friends, we shared several bottles of wine, and I consumed several glasses. Quite frankly, the simple fact is, if you have more than two drinks in an hour, you’re over the limit. Without paying close attention to your surroundings, it’s easy to do. I’m only speaking for myself, not anyone else. I made a poor decision. And I’m coming forth and telling my story in hopes that we can encourage someone else not to make the same step.”
As a result of his guilty plea, Smith was fined $1,000 and given a 90-day suspended sentence. He also had to complete an alcohol safety program and had his driving privileges restricted for a year.
“I think it’s an important message that needs to be told,” Smith said Wednesday. “It can be painful or difficult to pull the scab off an old wound. It was 2009 when the incident with me happened, but I think with this being one of the biggest sporting events or the biggest sporting event in the calendar year, I think it’s important to help our fans and encourage them to drink responsibly and make sure they have a game-plan. That’s all it takes. Make sure you have a safe ride home if you plan to indulge. It makes for a better and safer atmosphere for everyone.”
Smith was compensated monetarily as part of his partnership with Bud Light.
“I didn’t have to do this," he said. "I thought it would be a great partnership and the message is, that I’ve stated before, I think this could have an effect on a handful of people or even more.”
Smith had two previous DUI arrests. A 1997 conviction was later dismissed, and he was acquitted in another case in 2003.
“That has nothing to do with this here. I pled guilty to this one DUI, and that’s what we’re here talking about,” Smith said.
He will not be attending the Super Bowl.
Asked for a prediction on the game, the Virginia Beach resident said, “My head tells me Peyton [Manning], my heart tells me I want the three Virginia guys do well, Russell Wilson, Kam Chancellor and Percy Harvin.”
Smith said he’s not crazy about the outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl.
“I think it should be fan-friendly,” he said.
571dESPN New York staff