During an interview on ESPN2's "First Take," former Minnesota Viking and current television football analyst Robert Smith disclosed that he has struggled with alcoholism for many years. He made his comments following a discussion about another football player, Aldon Smith, who recently spent four weeks in rehab after a DWI conviction.
Robert Smith said that he was raised by his drug-dealing father in a chaotic household. Knowing the dangers of substance abuse first hand, he tried to stay away as much as possible. He abstained from drugs and alcohol growing up, but said that the difficulty of balancing academics and sports led him to begin drinking when he was a student at Ohio State University. His alcoholism continued through the entirety of his decade-long professional football career.
It was only after he retired in 2000 that Smith sought help for his addiction. He told ESPN that the road to sobriety has not been easy. He relapsed several times over the course of his recovery, but said that the birth of his son caused him to put down the bottle for good.
"I think that's the difficult part of mental illness," Smith to the media outlet. "You have a mind that's telling you that you don't have a problem. And you start to feel better, then you feel you don't need [counseling] anymore. You have a period of sobriety, and you think you're cured, but you don't graduate from alcoholics school."