According to the New Orleans Police Department, former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith reportedly had a loaded 9mm handgun in his Mercedes-Benz when he was shot in New Orleans late Saturday night. Cardell Hayes, who shot Smith and his wife, has claimed that he felt threatened by Smith during what appears to be a road-rage incident.
Former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith was shot multiple times and died Saturday night in the fallout of what was essentially a fender-bender. Cardell Hayes, who is currently in police custody, rear-ended the Saints star in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans, the two exchanged words, and Hayes drew a gun and shot Smith at least six times and Smith’s wife, Racquel, twice in the leg.
Smith, 34, played nine seasons with the New Orleans Saints after the team drafted him back in 2004. He was a key member of the defense in the Saints Super Bowl XLIV Championship. Smith was arguably the best sack artist in the history of the franchise, with 67.5 on his career, including 10.5 during the team’s magic 2006 NFC Championship run and 13 sacks during the Super Bowl run in 2009.
Members of the NFL Community took to Twitter to send their condolences to Smith’s family. Sean Payton, Deuce McAllister, Cameron Jordan, Greg Bensel, and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu all appropriately used the word “senseless” to describe the murder.
“I am shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith,” said Landrieu. “My thoughts and prayers are with Will’s family and those who loved him dearly. The senseless acts of violence have to stop. Traffic accidents should not lead to someone losing their life.”
Arizona Cardinals defensive back and New Orleans native Tyrann Mathieu wasn’t nearly as polite in his wording. It turns out that Hayes was a football star himself back in his high school days at Warren Easton High School in New Orleans. Mathieu, a standout himself at St. Augustine in New Orleans, knew Hayes.
“I know that dude, he been a hating ass coward,” Tweeted Mathieu. “Never knew he’d grow up to be a killer tho…May you get what you deserve coward.”
By it didn’t stop there. Mathieu had quite the rant on the state of the culture in NOLA in general.
“Until y’all get them crooks out of office and until y’all give these kids something constructive to do, the violence will continue to grow” ranted Mathieu. “They can’t go to parks like I was able to because the grass ain’t cut, and the rims have no nets nor do they even have rims. The budgets cutting into education, recreation, and everything else that is vital to a kid having success. Not to mention half of their fathers are in prison. So this isn’t coming from an angry place but from a person who has made it out!”
“All they have is music to influence them, and if you listen closely to music nowadays, it’s brainwashing them to believe drugs and killing are the cool thing to do which is why I’m dropping an album…Cause that shit ain’t cool, cool is being a father and being able to provide. Cool is facing adversity and having God having a place in your heart and world. Cool is handling things like men not like cowards. I’m at peace…I’m going to church to pray for all y’all.”
Unfortunately, violence like this is commonplace in New Orleans. You can’t turn on the nightly news with hearing about a murder or two. Hopefully, the death of one of the city’s all-time favorites will reawaken the call to end the senseless violence.
In the fallout of his death, the team has announced that Smith was unanimously voted into the Saints Ring of Fame, an honor which was to be announced in May.
Smith is survived by his wife, Racquel, and three children.