Brad Smith has always been good at turning heads. Remember that Independence Bowl in 2005 when the Mizzou quarterback led the Tigers to a thrilling 38-31 win over South Carolina? The same game that saw Mizzou trailing 21-0 in the first quarter — and then not attempting a single punt in the entire second half?
Yeah, that showed some finesse.
Now Smith is turning heads again with his smooth style, but this time, he’s scoring his points in fashion. The Buffalo Bills’ receiver, quarterback and kickoff returner has signed on as an intern for Men’s Health magazine, where he is learning the game plan of a fashion editor.
“I’ve always liked to dress and present myself in a way that my mom would be proud,” says Smith, who earned a business degree from the University of Missouri. “I can’t say I’m into all of the different things with fashion, but I’m into learning about how it works and what makes things happen, what makes people buy things. Trends are a big deal in the fashion industry, so who sets the trends? Who helps to build and promote them? Which brands have more say than others? Which buyers have more say than others? I wanted to learn a little about that.”
Smith threw himself right into the fashion fray: His first week at Men’s Health came during February’s New York Fashion Week. Smith attended all of the men’s fashion shows — and there, felt a little like someone had pulled a trick play.
“I was expecting a big, 20- to 30-minute exhibition, but I think the longest one was seven minutes,” Smith says.
Brian Boye, the executive fashion director for Men’s Health and Smith’s journalism coach, explains a little more.
“It’s a big drama to get into the show, it’s a big drama to find your seat, everybody’s talking with everybody, then the lights go down, the show starts and as soon as you know it, it’s over,” he says.
Although the shows didn’t last long, Smith still found opportunities to connect with fashion insiders and even conducted some red-carpet interviews with top designers.
Since his internship during Fashion Week, Smith has an ongoing relationship with Men’s Health. Some of his assignments have included style segments for local TV, creating website videos — one of which has him in a spa, getting a shave while interviewing his shaver for tips — and writing stories.
“He’s a really quick study,” Boye says. “He picked up very quickly on the Men’s Health approach to style. We talk to a lot of guys who are interested in looking good, and we have a very specific voice that we speak to them in about style and grooming. He really understood that right off the bat and was able to use that voice when he was creating videos for our website or writing copy for a story or talking about Men’s Health on television.”
Although the on-camera assignments aren’t the types that would necessarily go to a “regular” intern, the NFL player’s fame didn’t keep him from the not-so-glamorous intern tasks. His behind-the-scenes contributions during the April Men’s Health cover shoot included packing trunks (shoes go in first) and steaming shirts.
“We lucked out with Brad,” Boye says. “He is a genuinely nice guy, and he treats other people with respect. He’s down-to-earth. You know, he’s a very successful athlete, at the top of his game, he earns a lot of money, and he’s in the public eye, but he treats everybody with respect and courtesy, and we couldn’t be happier to partner with him.”
Boye may be doing a bit of bragging, but what do Smith’s friends in the NFL think of his plunge into fashion?
“Oh, they love it,” Smith says. “They want to learn more about it. Any tips I get from the people at the magazine or ideas, they take them.”
It seems everywhere Smith goes, he is destined for good receptions.