Barty Smith was a No. 1 pick by the Packers in 1974 and put in seven hard-earned seasons at fullback, mostly blocking for the likes of John Brockington and Terdell Middleton while also leading the team in rushing once.
Never flashy, Smith toiled during mostly down years in Green Bay. He rushed for nearly 2,000 yards, had 120 receptions and scored 21 TDs. Smith was named Packers offensive player of the year in 1977, when he led the club with 554 yards rushing and also paced the team with 37 receptions.
Smith also had a career-high 567 yards and 37 grabs in ’78, his only season where the Packers had a winning record at 8-7-1. He appeared in all 30 games during that productive two-year span, with ’75 being his only other NFL season where he didn’t miss a contest. In ’80, Smith’s final season, he appeared in only one game.
“I lasted six years and we weren’t very good, but I remember fondly the way we were taken in by the people there,” Smith said this week. “As mediocre as we were, we were treated exceptionally. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be there now as Super Bowl champions. That boggles the mind.”
Smith’s career was plagued by knee injuries that have forced him to have eight knee surgeries since his playing days ended and he’s had his left knee replaced, a procedure he may be forced to have again.
Selected out of the University of Richmond, Smith originally suffered a serious injury to his left knee at the 1974 College All-Star game, which also featured No. 1 picks such as Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann and Broncos linebacker Randy Gradishar.
“I had already signed a contract with the Packers, but I injured my knee in that game and I never fully recovered,” Smith said. “That’s just part of the deal.”
He is now the senior vice president of sales for Loveland Distributing in his hometown of Richmond, which distributes Miller, Coors and Corona, among several other brands. Smith worked his way up to senior management after celebrating his third decade with the company in March.
Following a standout career for the Spiders in which he led Richmond to a Tangerine Bowl appearance, Smith was thrilled to be heading to Green Bay after being chosen 12th overall.
“I certainly knew the history there and how successful the teams had been,” Smith said. “Moving to a place that wasn’t a big city was much more conducive to my personality as opposed to going somewhere like Los Angeles. I was also more cold-weather oriented.
“The tough part was we were rebuilding. We had traded for John Hadl, who was a fine quarterback in his time, but at that point the trade took away multiple picks.”
Hadl was acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in 1974 for first-, second- and third-round choices in 1975, and first- and second-round picks in 1976. The QB joined the team at 34 and played in only 22 games with the Packers, tossing nine TDs and 29 interceptions.
As he worked his way up the ladder at Loveland Distributing, Smith hasn’t made his way back to Green Bay, but he aims to in 2011. He has twin sons who are 12, Adam and Mitchell, and a 14-year-old, Jacob. They watched the Packers’ run to the Super Bowl XLV title as fans, and Smith wants his sons and wife, Sue, to experience Lambeau Field.
“Sue and I have talked about coming to the opener against New Orleans,” he said. “I can’t go without my boys. I’ve never been one to live my life in the rearview mirror, but I’m proud of my time there. There are Green Bay fans everywhere, and it’s nice to be remembered. It amazes me.”
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