Telvin Smith moving on with football after brother's death
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Telvin Smith's voice echoed though the locker room Wednesday. He was laughing, joking and sounding like his usual self.
It was a vastly different scene three days earlier, when the Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker sat slumped at his locker in Detroit for more than half an hour, obviously still coping with his brother's death.
Smith said Wednesday he's ready to move forward with the football part of his life. The personal side could take a while longer.
"Tough question, tough question," he said. "Still trying to figure that out."
Smith's brother, 25-year-old Brian Keith Moore, was shot and killed in their hometown of Valdosta, Georgia, on Nov. 13. Smith was away from the Jaguars (2-8) for four days last week, missing meetings and practices. He returned Friday and then headed back home for his brother's funeral the following day. He insisted he never considering skipping the game, a 26-19 loss to the Lions .
"I wanted my brother to get all the love and respect that he deserved, but I never want to become a distraction of this team," said Smith, whose up-and-down week included the birth of a son. "That's my whole thing."
Smith finished with a team-high eight tackles and a fumble recovery against Detroit, a fitting tribute to his late brother who also played football.
“It’s a lot of credit to Telvin to being able to lock out the distractions he went through all week and come in and play well," said Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash. "He didn’t have a lot of reps on the grass all week. He did a lot of studying on his own. Obviously he had the information from Coach [Robert] Saleh, but it’s a lot of credit to him locking all that stuff up and coming and playing well."
The funeral was even more emotional, although it helped having teammate and fellow linebacker Paul Posluszny there for support.
"Now that's one thing that I can take from the situation to say that really showed me a lot about who he is and how much he cares about me," Smith said. "I know a lot of guys do, but he went over and beyond just to make sure that he let me know that he was there for me."
Posluszny called the decision a no-brainer, especially since he's been Smith's mentor for three years.
"I think more than anything it says a lot about how well-liked he is," Posluszny said. "Guys love him. You could feel that. When he wasn't here last week on the practice field, you could feel it. You could just feel that there was something missing. He's that powerful in this locker room, and guys love him. He's the type of guy you would do anything, and me going with him was just an example of that."
Following the funeral, Posluszny and Smith flew on owner Shad Khan's plane to Detroit. They stopped in Alabama to pick up running back T.J. Yeldon, who attended his grandfather's funeral the same day.
"It was tough to see Telvin because you see how live and vibrant he is and always smiling," Posluszny said. "To see him in a very difficult situation emotionally, that was the hard part. If it looks like he's hurting bad, you know he's hurting really bad."
Smith's demeanor in the locker room Sunday showed it. He declined interviews and stared at the floor as teammates patted him on the head and shoulders. Posluszny and others leaned in and whispered to him.
"Just the emotions of the week," Smith said. "I truly used my teammates and thoughts of them. ... I think that lifted me to help me push my family through the tough time, but at the same time, yeah, just a serious situation."
Three days after the game, Smith looked more at peace with his ordeal as the Jaguars prepared to play at Buffalo (5-5).
"He came in smiling, had the same vibrant energy, the same personality," Posluszny said. "You feel like the Telvin that we all know is back."
Coach Gus Bradley felt the same after talking with Smith and watching him the past few days, but he also cautioned that appearances can be deceiving.
"It feels, for me and the coaches, back to normal, but I'm sure it's not," Bradley said. "He's here, he's taking notes. It's good to see him back in the meeting room, a lot of energy out at practice, very focused.
"That part of it feels very similar to what we've always had from Telvin. ... I'm sure when he's in the building and doing the football (part), he's focused on that. When he leaves, I don't know if he goes back and thinks about some of the (other) things. I'm sure he does."
Copyright 2016 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.