Former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith who was shot and killed late Saturday night in an apparent road rage incident in the Lower Garden District was a stalwart player for the Saints during the team’s glory days under head coach Sean Payton.
Smith was drafted by the team in 2004 and was on the team for its turnaround under Payton in the year following Hurricane Katrina.
Smith had already shown signs of his potential after being drafted 18th overall in the first round of the 2004 draft out of Ohio State.
When 2006 came along, Smith was an anchor of the opportunistic defense that led the team to the NFC Championship game. In 14 games that season he had 10.5 sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl.
Smith kept up his consistent play and in the Super Bowl season of 2009, he registered a career high 13 sacks, recorded an interception and forced three fumbles as the team rolled to a 13-0 start and a Super Bowl title. Smith was an honorable mention All-Pro player that season by the Associated Press.
Smith was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the 2012 season over the alleged bounty scandal, but he didn’t miss any games as the ruling was appealed and eventually overturned.
Smith injured his knee in a 2013 preseason game and missed the season. He was released prior to the 2014 season. He was picked up by New England for a short period but was waived before the regular season.