EmailPackers' Dietrich-Smith has life in orderGreen Bay - One bench. One squat machine. Not many dumbbells. Evan Dietrich-Smith wasn't in Lambeau Field anymore.Two years ago, his home field was this "crappy little YMCA."Instead, of 70,000 screaming fans, Dietrich-Smith had 10-15 fellow "Y" members. When the clanging of 45-pound plates filled the room, they gathered around."Every time Evan was on the bench press," said Dietrich-Smith's brother, Alex, "people stopped what they were doing to come watch him bench."And this continued for three months, the most important three months of the Green Bay Packers center's life. From early October 2010 into late December, Evan Dietrich-Smith's NFL career was on the brink of extinction. Complete limbo. He had just been released by the Seattle Seahawks. He had his future wife. He was a new dad.Other people were counting on him.So that's how Dietrich-Smith attacked the three months in Salinas, Calif. He adopted a sharp, new perspective on life. Having a daughter, Jocelyn, was the No. 1 motivator. By far. And each day at that YMCA, Dietrich-Smith trained with his older brother. Through two tours in Iraq, Alex has seen friends killed right in front of him. Body parts airborne, lives lost.For Evan, life lessons were constant those three months. Eventually, it all paid off. On Saturday night against the Minnesota Vikings, Dietrich-Smith will be in the eye of the NFC playoff storm.For him, it came down to a choice."My family was on the line," Dietrich-Smith said. "It was my job and my responsibility to provide for my wife and my kid. That's kind of what really hit me in the back of the head like, 'Figure it out dude, let's go.' "Uncommitted and out of shape, Dietrich-Smith didn't have that internal alarm clock in 2009. He's the first to admit it. Like left guard T.J. Lang, Dietrich-Smith spent too much time drinking and staying up late in downtown Green Bay. An undrafted rookie out of Idaho State, Dietrich-Smith was on the four-lane highway to obscurity. Off the field, he met his girlfriend, Misty Lindemann. On it, he faded away.When roster cuts came in 2010, the Packers waived Dietrich-Smith. Seattle picked him up and then they released him after four games.Without any other takers, Dietrich-Smith settled back into Salinas. He was jobless. A baby was on the way."We were sitting there like, (expletive) man, what are we going to do?" Dietrich-Smith said.Then came the reality check. Jocelyn Dietrich-Smith was born and "maybe 2, 3 days later," Dietrich-Smith worked out for the Miami Dolphins. Alongside two other players, Dietrich-Smith botched the job interview. The reasoning was simple - he wasn't in shape."It was a wake-up call," Dietrich-Smith said. "But it was a wake-up call in a sense of 'I'm sitting here with two guys. I'm better than both of these guys.' But what I've been doing workout-wise and moving and everything like that hasn't allowed me to show my true potential."Dietrich-Smith was still on the NFL radar, flickering. His phone silent, he considered all options. Maybe he'd teach. He took a test to be a substitute teacher. And maybe, Dietrich-Smith pondered, he'd follow his brother's footsteps. As he began working out with Alex, Dietrich-Smith briefly considered enlisting into the Army.So Alex Dietrich-Smith shared some stories. Some raw, life-changing stories. With the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, he served two tours in Iraq. One from March 2003 to March 2004, the other January 2005 to July 2005.Alex witnessed the microscopic difference between life and death up close. It was his job to walk that tightrope, a job that earned him a Purple Heart.One day, Alex was driving a Humvee through Iraq and pulled over to set up a barricade - an "observation point" used to spot the enemy. When it was time to leave, Alex stepped toward the driver's seat. No, his friend said. He'd drive.Alex hopped into the back seat, but first he had to pick up some concertina wire. Then, standing behind the trunk of the Humvee, an improvised explosive device (IED) blew up. Shrapnel blasted toward Alex, cutting his wrist and tearing a hole through the strap of his weapon. A couple inches one way and he would have been stabbed in the chest.In the driver's seat - the exact spot he should have been sitting - Alex's friend was killed.If the NFL dream is alive, Alex told Evan, keep it alive."I told him, 'Don't do it,' " Alex said, on Evan joining the military. "You don't want to see anybody blown into a bunch of little pieces."And they went to work.Together - five days a week, for three months - the Dietrich-Smith boys trained at that YMCA. The highest dumbbell "only" went up to 110 pounds, Dietrich-Smith said. Still, it was more than enough. On Monday and Thursday, they worked on chest. On Tuesday and Friday, back and shoulders. The other three days they'd run or play basketball.Dietrich-Smith became stronger, more focused. Whenever another team called, he'd be a new player."For me it was just let's go in here, hammer it out and do what we need to do," Dietrich-Smith said. "I had everything going and made sure we were hitting our lift. I'd yell at him (Alex) if he was slacking or anything like that and say, 'Come on, let's go!' It was always you go, I go, you go, I go."Let's put it this way, my brother has been in more (expletive) than a lot of people have. Him being in the Army, he knows what it is to go out there and work. When he was with me, I never had to tell him what to do."At home, Dietrich-Smith had Misty and Jocelyn. That was the day-to-day motivation to push harder, to lift more, to keep those people flocking to the bench press. His brother? Seeing him daily was another life lesson.Three years apart, they didn't grow up with the same group of friends. But over these three months, they became closer. After all, Evan almost lost his brother in those two Iraq tours.Moving his hands for effect, Dietrich-Smith tells the story of the IED that nearly killed his brother.When Alex returned to the U.S., he initially struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. He had a tendency to snap when others confronted him. And one day, walking near a train station in Pocatello, Idaho, Alex panicked when the train switched tracks."He jumped out of his skin like . . . " said Dietrich-Smith, smacking his hands together. "That thing hit and he's like, 'What the (expletive) is that?!' He hit the deck."Being with his brother allowed Evan Dietrich-Smith to view his life, his future through a new lens."We can live. This isn't the end of the (expletive) world, you know what I mean?" Dietrich-Smith said. "It ain't nothing like that. This is life. This is how you feed your family. We're doing this for the entertainment of our country, not the freedom of it. So at the end of the day, it's a game. It allows me to provide nice things for myself and my family and support my brother and my parents."Refreshed mentally, Dietrich-Smith became stronger physically. Evan pushed Alex. Alex pushed Evan.Then, finally, the call came.In December 2010, the New York Jets invited Dietrich-Smith in for a workout . . . a workout that never happened. His flight was canceled due to a snowstorm on the East Coast. And precisely when the Jets planned to reschedule for the following week, in swooped the Packers. Green Bay flew him in. Dietrich-Smith aced his workout."And the rest is history," Dietrich-Smith said.One full season later, here he is. Green Bay benched 14-year veteran Jeff Saturday for the younger, fresher Dietrich-Smith. Two games in, the Packers' no-huddle attack has picked up. Also, in an postseason crowded with fire-breathing interior pass rushers, that YMCA strength is a necessity.So far, so good. He's looking like a potential long-term answer."He's handled it well like we expected him to," left tackle Marshall Newhouse said. "From the time he's been here, he's just grown immensely. When he was thrust into the position, we didn't have any doubts. We've seen what he could do and we knew what kind of player he was."Added right tackle Don Barclay, "He's done a great job. He's real confident in his calls. He knows what he's doing on every play so I think that helps everyone else."His job secure, Dietrich-Smith's life is now in order. Last summer, he tied the knot with his girlfriend at Blue Harbor in Sheboygan. They live in Green Bay full time. Sitting inside his locker, Dietrich-Smith reaches back for his cellphone.Flipping through a few photos, he lands on the one of Jocelyn. The 2-year-old is smiling, surrounded by Christmas gifts. In 2010 - banished by the Packers and Seahawks - Dietrich-Smith wasn't quite sure such a holiday was possible. He was lifting, waiting, wondering and resuscitating his career.Now, he's starting for a Super Bowl contender."I think he saw what he had and what he lost," Alex Dietrich-Smith said. "He wanted to get that back, and the only way to get that was to work harder."Read more from Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/packers-dietrichsmith-has-life-in-order-pv887oa-185622911.html#ixzz31fQukViZFollow us: @JournalSentinel on Twitter
They did want to resign him…. I know I read it somewhere… but Bucs were all over him.The oline needs a vocal leader (even if Demar doesn't - lol) and I think this guy is a significant upgrade AS LONG AS HE STAYS HUNGRY
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