In 2001, Rod Smart rose to prominence and became a bit of a pop culture sensation when, playing in the first iteration of Vince McMahon’s XFL, he wore the unforgettable nameplate “He Hate Me” above his No. 30 jersey for the Las Vegas Outlaws.
Eighteen years later, Smart is in the news again, but for potentially tragic reasons.
The Lancaster County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office is seeking information on the whereabouts of Smart, whose full given name is Torrold DeShaun Smart. It posted a missing person bulletin to Facebook on Tuesday morning.
The 42-year-old Smart was last seen on June 12 in Indian Land, South Carolina, about 20 miles south of uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. He was driving a silver 2016 Nissan Maxima.
“It is unusual for him to be out of touch for this long,” the sheriff’s office said in its post. “Mr. Smart’s family is worried about his safety and well-being.”
It described Smart as a “missing endangered person.”
***UPDATE*** Mr. Smart has been located and he is safe at this time. We appreciate everyone’s concern and…
After his star turn in the XFL, Smart went on to play for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. He returned four punts for 74 yards in Super Bowl XXXVIII, which the Panthers lost to the New England Patriots.
Al Wallace, a teammate of Smart’s on the Panthers, spoke to The Charlotte Observer about his disappearance.
“This is shocking news and I just hope Rod is OK,” Wallace said.
“Rod has always been one of the biggest personalities in any room he enters,” he said. “He’s hilarious and full of energy, and as a player he was blazing fast. He was one of the few guys who could break Coach [John] Fox down, literally, in tears of laughter, with the things he would do and say. When I think of that Super Bowl team, he’s still one of the guys that stands out to me.”
Smart explained the origin of his famous nickname to reporters as a motivational tool to give his sense of vengeance an outlet on the field.
“Football is very political at the pro level,” he said at the time, according to The Observer. “And because I came in [to every training camp] as the last back, if I didn’t get a carry, I’d talk to the other running backs and say, ‘He hate me, man. This coach hate me.’ I was always saying that.”
Police need help locating the former Panther. Was last seen June 12. https://t.co/WWfzo9ZbtZ
— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) June 18, 2019
Ironically, “He Hate Me” ended up beloved, and when Smart took a kickoff 100 yards to the house against New Orleans in 2003, Panthers broadcaster Bill Rosinski famously intoned, “He Hate Me? We love you!”
Wallace mentioned that his friend had dreams of being an actor.
“He wanted to take that personality and that smile to Hollywood,” Wallace said. “That was a dream of his. For a long time, he was on the audition trail.”
It might not be fair to use past tense there, insofar as nobody yet knows the status of Smart’s health or well-being, but those reading who have any information are strongly advised to contact authorities at (803) 283-3388.
For a man known as “He Hate Me,” a lot of people are very worried about him.
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