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Smith chosen for NFL committee


The youngest general manager in the NFL at age 38, Rick Smith looks forward to helping better the league through the new General Managers Advisory Committee.

When Texans owner Bob McNair signed Rick Smith to a four-year contract extension June 3, he complimented Smith, the league's youngest general manager, for the direction in which the team is heading. In particular, McNair noted Smith's understanding of what it takes to build a successful organization.

Last week, NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson validated that assessment by naming Smith as one of 12 NFL general managers to represent the league on the new General Managers Advisory Committee, a brainstorming group that will offer advice to the league in a number of areas.

"It's an honor," Smith said of being named to the committee. "Any time you have a chance to interact and make a difference on the league level is exciting."

Smith joins general managers Jerry Angelo (Chicago Bears), Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers), Rod Graves (Arizona Cardinals), James Harris (Jacksonville Jaguars), Tom Heckert (Philadelphia Eagles), Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers), Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints), Carl Peterson (Kansas City Chiefs), Jerry Reese (New York Giants), Tim Ruskell (Seattle Seahawks) and Mike Tannenbaum (New York Jets) on the committee, which will be co-chaired by Anderson and former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi.

"All of us have such respect for each other," Smith said. "While we are in competitive relationships, we are also in cooperative relationships as well. Obviously, when you talk about some of the guys on that list, I've got a lot of respect for all of them and certainly some closer relationships with some than others. I'm just excited about having an opportunity to work with them."

{QUOTE}According to Anderson, the league wanted to form a committee with a representative from each division and a balance between long-time general managers and some newer faces, such as Smith and Tannenbaum.

Areas of focus will include protecting and supporting the integrity of the game, expanding the use of technology, player development and scouting opportunities, and discovering ways to enhance the Pro Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine, NFL draft and preseason.

"There are ways as we continue to evaluate our game and how we present it that you can improve on, and I think that's the spirit of what the committee is all about," Smith said. "I'm excited about being a part of it."

Anderson said it was important to he and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to further incorporate the ideas of general managers into the league's decision-making processes.

"We want to be able to draw upon all the intellectual capacity that we have in the league," Anderson said. "We think a number of our general managers, and certainly Rick Smith, have a lot to offer in terms of insight and feedback and creative thinking as we go through the issues and concerns that we have to deal with as a league."

Last October, Anderson came away impressed with Smith after the location of the Texans' Week 9 contest at San Diego was threatened due to wildfires sweeping through Southern California.

As the league debated whether to keep the game in San Diego or move it to various other locations, Smith demonstrated a level-headedness that made his appointment to the committee an easy one for Anderson to make.

"I had a chance to really see Rick operate, not just on behalf of his club, but also operate with a real sense of what was best for the league and the competitive aspects of what the league stands for, and he was just so impressive in that particular instance for me, personally," Anderson said.

"And then we talked to other general managers and other senior folks out there to say, 'Who do you have good feelings about?' and, 'Who do you respect and think are really bright people that should be considered for this?' And it's no surprise Rick's name was very prominent among those.

"Rick is the whole package: intelligent, passionate, ethical, and cares about not just his franchise but he cares about this whole league. He was a no-brainer for me."

Committee meetings are likely to take place at pre-existing league gatherings such as the Senior Bowl, combine and annual owners meetings. Anderson said the committee also will convene via conference call when necessary.

As Smith continues to settle into his role as an NFL general manager in the wake of his recent contract extension, he sees serving on the committee as a chance to improve the welfare of the league.

"I think over time, I will continue to be more involved in things at the league level," Smith said. "It's certainly an honor for me and it's something that I don't take lightly at all."

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