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Bills’ Smith Leaves To Be With Dad

September 1, 1999

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) _ Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith took a second day off from practice today to be with his ailing father.

``He’s still in the hospital right now,″ Smith said in a telephone interview. ``I’m coming back tonight. I can sit down and talk more about it tomorrow.″

Smith’s father, George, has been troubled by several ailments including emphysema. He is in a rehabilitation center near Smith’s home in Norfolk, Va.

Smith wouldn’t be specific about his father’s condition or say if it were immediately life-threatening. ``It’s really a number of things that he’s dealing with,″ Smith said.

The oft-injured veteran defensive end credits his father for inspiring him to keep playing _ and to play through the pain.

``The doctors wrote him off about six or seven years ago,″ Smith said last month. ``They said he had six months to live, and my father’s still hanging around. He’s not in very good shape but he’s still passing on knowledge and experiences and wisdom, and that’s where I get my will to keep pushing on.″

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