January 27, 2023

Hogan: Argos Re-Sign Grey Cup Hero

He’s still basking in the greatest moment of his professional life, but that doesn’t mean Robbie Smith isn’t looking to add to his resume.

The man who clinched a Grey Cup win by blocking a last-minute field goal attempt has re-signed with the Toronto Argonauts, inking a two-year deal to remain in Double Blue.

It was a relatively simple choice for the Brampton native.

“For sure,” Smith told Argonauts.ca. “Especially with it being my hometown and with us ending on a high note last year. Having amazing coaches and an amazing front office made this a pretty easy decision for me.”

The defensive end has only known pro football as an Argo. Drafted ninth overall in the 2019 CFL Draft, the 25-year-old has become more of an impact player each season. This year he had an interception that nearly went for a touchdown in Hamilton, and he forced a fumble near the end of a game in Saskatchewan that was recovered by Enoch Penney-Laryea, who returned it for a game-clinching TD.

Four months later he’d make an even bigger play just steps away from where he forced the fumble against the Riders. When he blew by Winnipeg’s Casey Sayles and launched himself into the air toward the kick, he also catapulted himself into Argo history.

“I haven’t thought about that,” he admitted. While it was a conversation held via cell phone, he was obviously smiling on the other end of the line. “It’s just a great feeling to end on a win; especially with what everybody went through – to win as a team. I’ll still think about Henoc (Muamba) and the tears he had, and Oak (Shawn Oakman bawling on the field) and what he was feeling, and Speedy (Brandon Banks) getting his first Grey Cup. That’s the biggest thing that puts a smile on my face.”

He’s sincere when he talks about putting his teammates before himself, that’s one of the reasons the Laurier product is so popular among his teammates. When pressed, he did admit he’s sneaked a peek at the video of the last few minutes of the championship game.

“Uhhhhhh, honestly?” he replied when asked, again with an obvious smile. “In the week after I probably watched it once or twice, but I always try to look forward. I’ve always had a ‘next play’ mentality. I try to have quick amnesia whether it’s good or bad. It’s a key play, but if I keep dwelling on it it’s not that great for me.”

That attitude certainly must have helped on the final drive of the Grey Cup. With two minutes left in the game he sacked Zach Collaros to set up a third-and-13. He’d get to the Winnipeg quarterback again on the next play, for an all-too-brief moment leaving Argo fans in a celebratory mood – but he was guilty of inadvertently grabbing the QB’s facemask.

The penalty gave the Bombers life and that misfortune may have mentally destroyed some players. But Smith quickly rebounded, making a first-down-saving tackle on Brady Oliveira a couple of plays later, before cementing his place in Argo history.

With the Grey Cup and the new contract both behind him, Smith can continue his football journey. He’s excited to be staying home and thrilled to once again be working with his defensive coordinator/defensive line coach, whom he credits with helping him improve the technical aspects of his game.

“I think Coach (Corey) Mace did a phenomenal, phenomenal job; not just as a coach, but as a coach that wore different hats. Coach Mace did an amazing job as an educator and as a teacher about the game of football. I learned so much about offensive protection and how they defend different blitzes; really understanding how the linebackers and the defensive backs – how we’re all one system and work together.”

The individual and team success resulted in a Grey Cup win. Smith has done a couple of events in his hometown, including one a week ago at Brampton City Hall with teammates Sam Acheampong and Royce Metchie, who sent a video greeting.

He’s proud of his Brampton background and made sure he acknowledged his roots when he had his day with the Grey Cup.

“I took it to the elementary school I went to,” he explained. “It was called Cardinal Newman when I went there, it’s now called St. John Henry Newman Catholic School. I also took it to my high school (St. Thomas Aquinas).”

Smith has made the jump from low-profile Canadian to Grey Cup hero. It makes the 2022 season a tough act to follow, but with a new two-year deal in his pocket he’s willing to do the work to do just that.