Sunday, March 24, 2013

Will We Be Looking At A Congressman Torrey Smith (D-MD) One Day?


Two Maryland stars: Elijah Cummings & Torrey Smith

I'm not a sports fan; never was. I used to go to all the Lakers games but that was because when I became president of Reprise I inherited Frank Sinatra's best-in-the-house on-the-court seats. It was exciting. I sort of became a fan after a few seasons. But mostly I just watch whatever sports game is on TV when I'm visiting my friend Russ, usually before dinner and after dinner. I don't know one team from another and I still can't figure out football. And the only thing I know about the Baltimore Ravens is that the team was named for the classic poem by local celebrity Edgar Allan Poe when they moved from Cleveland. And that I was rooting for them to win the Super Bowl last year-- which they did. They beat the 49ers, from one of my hometowns, San Francisco. Perhaps you remember the controversy when South Carolina homophobe Chris Culliver, who plays for the 49ers, decided to go public with his bigotry right before the game. "No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.... Can't be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can't be…in the locker room man. Nah." and the Ravens are the team of linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who is part of a new wave of outspoken athletes for LGBT rights. Mr. Ayanbadejo aided the successful referendum for marriage equality in Maryland in November while braving disagreements from teammates, criticism on sports radio and even a Maryland state delegate requesting that team chief executive Steve Biscotti "take the necessary action, as a National Football League owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employees." But the Ravens took no such action and Mr. Ayanbadejo hasn't stopped expressing himself, and won't stop this coming week.

So that's why I was rooting for the Ravens (and why the God of Hosts smote the 49ers that day). But what does that have to do with Torrey Smith? Not much. Except that he's been working for one of Congress' most progressive members, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings-- as an intern.
“As an athlete I feel like I always said, ‘Man, I can’t wait till I can just play football and I don’t have to worry about school,’” Smith told The Caw. “Now that all we do is work out and you have the rest of the day, I feel like I’m limiting myself if I don’t do anything else.”

So Smith decided to dedicate his 2013 offseason to being a political intern, working out of Baltimore. Cummings has represented Maryland’s seventh congressional district since he was first elected to office back in 1996.

Like any other intern, Smith, 24, has been doing typical “gopher” work-- typing, filing and opening mail.

“I was handling files, reading letters, relaying them, typing up what sponsors say, printing stuff,” Smith said. “I was the office guy.”

Sounds like some pretty dry work.

“It was fun though,” Smith added. “I enjoyed it.”

Cummings said Smith did an “outstanding job.”

“It was a pleasure having Torrey Smith intern with us, and I was glad that I could offer him the opportunity,” Cummings said in a statement. “Torrey was eager to learn about the legislative process and was treated no differently than any of our other interns-- all of whom play a meaningful and important role in helping me serve the constituents of Maryland’s 7th District. I hope that this experience gave him the perspective he sought and I thank him for his outstanding work.”
Torrey, a star wide receiver for the Ravens of humble background, founded a non-profit, the Torrey Smith Foundation which provides support to at-risk youth with physical, educational and financial challenges, particularly people whose lives have been affected by domestic violence. On the Ravens website, Torrey wrote, "I learned that there are really politicians that do a lot for their community-- [Cummings] being one of them. You can literally call your congressman and any issue you have, they can basically point you in the right direction if they can’t help you. I never really knew that. Being on that side and seeing how they work, it’s pretty cool. Their staff, they actually care. That says a lot when it comes to a city like Baltimore. You need people who are leaders and taking care of your area who really care.”

Congressman Cummings is still relatively young (62). Torrey is 24.

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