When Chuck Smith played for the Atlanta Falcons, he made a point of aggravating a young offensive tackle for the St. Louis Rams, seven-time Pro Bowler Orlando Pace. Smith's taunting eventually bothered Pace early in his career, so much so that Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce devoted ample time to trash-talking Smith to defend his teammate. Smith also was on the field toward the end of Atlanta's 1998 NFC Championship Game win over the highly favored Minnesota Vikings. As Vikings kicker Gary Anderson lined up for a field goal that would've sealed that win for Minnesota in regulation, Smith and his teammates reminded him of how much history would swing on that kick. It's impossible to know if Anderson's miss was directly related to that bluster, but Smith doesn't mind taking credit for that today.
Smith is just as candid when talking about other players who wilted when hearing too much smack. "We always knew we could get to [quarterback] Kerry Collins when he played in Carolina at the start of his career," Smith said. "I rolled into his knee once and I told him we'd be coming like that all day. He wouldn't even look at me after that."
There really are only two ways to silence a trash-talker. One is to win. The other is to not engage him. Smith spent years trying to aggravate Hall of Fame offensive tackle Willie Roaf -- they faced off twice a year for seven seasons when Roaf was playing in New Orleans -- and that never worked out. Smith would talk smack after plays. He'd nudge Roaf when he was walking back to the huddle. Every time the stoic Roaf would shrug it off and line up to go right back at his nemesis.
"The only time I talk is when it's in retaliation to something that's been said to me," said Tuck. "Usually it's when somebody says something to one of my teammates. But you really don't see offensive linemen talking that much. Plus, when it's done to me, it doesn't get me out of my game. I tend to play better when somebody is doing it."
One of the subplots of this year's Super Bowl will be how the Broncos' wide receivers deal with the trash-talking that has defined Sherman and his brash teammates in the Seahawks' secondary. Sherman already has dialed back his talking since Seattle's arrival in New Jersey -- "You can't say crazy stuff on a regular basis so I don't think being at the Super Bowl makes it any different," he said during his first news conference -- and the Denver receivers don't seem interested in running their mouths, either.
"We've got to play 60 minutes of football and I think we're pretty humble about it," said Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker. "Not to say or take away from anyone else, but I just think no one on our team really has … that ability. I think you're trying to catch your breath instead of talking because Peyton [Manning] goes so fast. You just get to the line and get ready for the next play."
Still, it's likely that some words -- and glares -- will be exchanged once Sunday arrives. There's simply too much at stake for any gifted trash-talker to stay silent. "Football is an intense game," Randle said. "You get so intense playing it that there really is nothing like it. When you're out there, you see guys become totally different people. It might be hard for some people to see that part of it but it's a tough game. And when you find something you can take advantage of, you do it."