Posted by Andy Benoit
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith was the commencement speaker at the University of Maryland graduation ceremony earlier this week. Smith grew up rooting for the Terps and attended the school for a few semesters in the mid-80s.
During the event, some of the Maryland crowd cascaded on Smith the same “we want football!” chants that Roger Goodell heard at Radio City Music Hall.
“I want football, too,” Smith said.
The theme of Smith’s speech revolved around comparing the NFL players’ lockout fight against the owners to the detractors the students will face in their future lives. He incorporated several football labor themes into his speech, including mentioning how much he “digs” players like ex-Terp and current NFLPA executive committee member Dominique Foxworth (who was in the stands) and ex-Terp Boomer Esiason, whom Smith noted once sat down in front of a bus full of replacement players during the 1987 strike.
There was an awkward moment late in the speech when Smith wrapped things up by incorporating Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll (Part 2)” as background music and encouraged everyone to clap along while shouting the mildly profane term that Maryland students have made a tradition of incorporating into the song:
"To anybody who thinks for one minute that passion is something that is cheap and futile, I have two words for them: You suck," Smith said, according to the Associated Press. "And for anybody who would ever think that it is the wrong thing to do to care so much that you're willing to risk everything because it is right, reserve those two words for them."
Driving the awkwardness was the fact that the music was not very loud and the students were essentially unresponsive to Smith’s implorations.
If you want to view Smith’s speech, fast forward (or click and drag forward) to the 4:15 mark in this video.
To view Smith’s awkward “you suck” cry, go to 26:59.
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