Behind the Facemask: Antone Smith

Frank Kleha: Your first name seems to have been misprounced for years but was cleared up in the preseason this year. Officially it's pronounced An-TAHN. I know you are a quiet, humble guy by nature, but why did it take so long to get corrected?

Antone Smith: The real reason I never did correct everybody is because if I did that I would be doing it all day, every day. Most people are set in their ways and how they call people names so I just don't worry about it. My mom called me Ton as a nickname as a youth, but my teammates here call me Tone (which makes it even more confusing). It was a big deal when I first got here but I'm so used to it now so I don't pay attention to it much. It's all good.

FK: What is your best sports memory growing up?

AS: The first time I scored a touchdown in Pop Warner. I was 10-years old playing for the Pahokee (Florida) Wildcats. I went 36 yards on a touchdown run. And I remember exactly how long it was. You don't forget your first. It was called '34 Gut' and I took it off the right side and made a guy miss, the rest was history. I've always had a little bit of speed and I didn't get caught. 

FK: Speed is your forte. Have you always been one of the fastest players on the field whatever level you played?  

AS: I've always had that gift of speed. I ran AAU track when I was younger to help me, but I wasn't always the fastest. I had to work for everything.

FK: I heard you said you could beat Robert Alford in a race (because he considers himself the fastest on the team). Can you beat Alford? Are you the fastest player on the team?

AS: No question about it. I'll put it on record that I could beat Robert Alford. He's fast, but I'm not going to sit here and say he's faster than me. And I'm pretty sure he would say the same thing. Julio thinks he is the fastest on the team also. He's fast too, everybody knows that. But I could beat him.

FK: What's your favorite sports movie?

AS: I always like watching "The Longest Yard." The old one's pretty good with Burt Reynolds but I prefer the latest one (with Adam Sandler).  For some reason I'm into that prison type theme for movies or TV shows. I like watching NBC's "Lock-Up" where they go inside these different prisons. I've never been in that atmosphere myself, but just to see it behind the scenes is different. I like things that are unscripted.

FK: Do you have a favorite action movie hero or tough guy?

AS: Yes, Wolverine or XMen. Wolverine is my guy. I'm not really a fictional movie guy but I like watching him.

Watch out for these storylines as the Atlanta Falcons prepare to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in just a few days during Primetime Thursday Night Football.

FK: What type of movies do you like the most?

AS: Mostly comedy, and some of the best ones I like are "Coming to America," "Friday" and "Step Brothers."

FK: What was your first car?

AS: Back in high school my first car was a gray, Nissan Altima. It was a five speed with a lot of miles on it.

FK: So what's your dream car these days?

AS: I would say the Audio R8 sports car.

FK: Best experience you've had since coming into the NFL?

AS: The best thing for me is just giving back to my family. I didn't grow up as a privileged child with a lot of money. My mother had to work for a lot to take care of her five kids so just to give back to my mom and help my family has been my best experience.

FK: If you could sit down with any four people in history for dinner who would you choose?

AS: I would say Martin Luther King, Bill Clinton, Abraham Lincoln and President Obama.

FK: What's one thing some people are good at that you struggle with?

AS: I'm laid back and I'm really shy when it comes to public speaking. There is no question I can do it, but that's one thing that makes me feel uneasy and uncomfortable. The most nervous I get is when Smitty (Coach Smith) calls us up to the front of the room at team meetings to talk. That's when I'm the most nervous. You wouldn't think it would be so hard talking among your peers but it is the hardest thing I ever do.

FK: Did you have a Hollywood crush growing up?

AS: Yes, the actress from the movie "Clueless" with the pretty eyes, Stacey Dash.

FK: I know you are a big music guy. What's the last song you sang out loud?

AS: It would have to be an R&B song. It was Brian McKnight's "Back at One."

FK: Other than a pro football player, what did you want to be growing up?

AS: When I was really young I always wanted to be in the Army. Then, I realized what it really was about, that you would be fighting for your country, and that made it even better.

FK: Is there anything you wish would come back in to fashion?

AS: I would have to think sweatsuits. The real sweatsuits way back in the day when you walk into the room they can hear you coming.

FK: What fictional character do you wish was real?

AS: Superman. Superman was there when nobody else was, helping people. There's no place he couldn't be at one time. If he was around a lot of crime wouldn't happen these days.

FK: Fill in the blank…If I lost my… (what)… I would be totally crushed?

AS: My dog, my husky Apollo. I'm really close to my dogs. (He has three; Star, Tyson and Apollo.)

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