Most folks in this area know Jerry Smiley for his barbecue. In the Rye Patch area, he has served it to friends from his home and more recently from The Clubhouse in Rye Patch.
What few people know is that Smiley’s son, Justin Smiley, plays for the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins surprised everyone by going from the worst team in the National Football League last year with a 1-15 record to one of the best teams this year with a 11-5 record, taking the American Football Conference, Eastern Division.
Sunday, as he watched his son’s team lose to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the NFL playoffs, Smiley answered questions about his son and his career.
"Justin is down at the game today, even though he isn’t playing," Smiley said.
The younger Smiley, who normally starts at left guard for Miami, went down with a broken right leg/ankle in week 13 when the Dolphins beat the St. Louis Rams 16-12. He is on injured-reserve with the team.
"He had a screw placed in his ankle, but according to the team and the trainers, he’s doing good," Smiley said.
He says his son has always been a fast healer, and he is rehabbing the ankle five days a week.
Justin just completed his fifth year in the NFL. The former 3-AA football standout, was a star at the University of Alabama, and was drafted in the second round of the 2004 college draft by the San Francisco 49’s. He completed his four-year contract with the west coast team, and entered 2007 as one of the top-five rated free agent guards in the NFL.
Last Feb. 29, the former Yellow Jacket from Brooklet, signed, a five year, $25 million contract with the Dolphins, and with his solid play he helped lead the team to one of the biggest turn arounds in NFL history, with the team’s worst-to-first season.
According to his father, Justin said, "I helped lead the team to where they were after 12 weeks, and I’m happy with that."
Smiley said he gets to go to a couple of games each year, and that his son usually gets up to Long County a couple of time each year, but one activity they both mark on their calendar is an annual hunting trip.
"In a couple of weeks we are going on a hunting trip we take every year, it’s kind of a family thing. This year teammate) Jake Long and his dad are planning to go with us too," Smiley said.
Long is the starting left tackle for the Dolphins, and was the team’s number one pick in the 2008 college draft.
According to Smiley, his son and daughter-in-law, Melissa, are expecting their second child in August. Their first son is Justin Jr., 1.
Melissa was a 49’er cheerleader when they met.
Smiley said he is proud of his son, and proud that he is a football player in the NFL. The father also said he wants everyone to know that most of the players he has met through his son seem to be good people.
"Most of them are genuine, down to earth and really nice. I met Chad Pennington a while back, and he was polite to me and appreciative, just genuine," Smiley said.
The Dolphins and Justin’s dream season ended Sunday, as the Ravens defeated the team 27-9.
After the game Smiley said, "Well they had a good season. That was sad play for them to go out like that, but they had a good run, and they’ll be back".