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Harrison Smith's Construction Projects Included Carpentry & Welding Before Return for 13th Vikings Season

EAGAN, Minn. – Harrison Smith exchanged his Hitman persona to (Assistant) Foreman.

Just for a few months, though.

The veteran Vikings safety spoke to Twin Cities media members Tuesday and was asked how he spent his time between Minnesota's final game of the 2023 season and making his decision to return for a 13th season.

Smith assured it was "nothing exciting."

"I was really like completely living life like I wasn't a football player, which is a good weight off your mind," he said.

He also assisted his brother, who's working on a remodel of Smith's home in their hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee.

"I just kind of helped out, worked under him," Smith said. "Got that experience in my life, which is pretty cool – it was fun. Carpenter, welder, wherever I can help."

Smith also focused on quality time with his wife Madison and their two young children, Eleanor and Pierce.

Interactions with his agent during that time, he noted, were conversational rather than business-related. In fact, he nearly lost track of football's offseason calendar, which begins annually in March.

Smith laughed that it wasn't until he "saw some things on ESPN" regarding free agency that he shifted back into that mode.

"I kind of just chilled out and didn't think about ball too much. And then, honestly, I kind of almost forgot [about] free agency, the date of it. Not like I forgot about it, but like just when it exactly was," he said. "I was like, 'I should go ahead and get this going.'

"But I already knew what I wanted to do," he added. "It's more just seeing how it works and if we can work it out, fit things together."

That peace of mind regarding his decision is what allowed Smith to fully unplug from the NFL life for a bit.

He can't put his finger on one specific reason he's returning, explaining it's "a lot of factors," but he did emphasize his continued desire to "try to win here" in Minnesota.

"That's why I play the game. I love to compete," Smith said. "I know people outside of here aren't expecting as much out of us as we do ourselves. But I think we have the makings of some good things here, and continuing to be a part of that [was important to me].

"I really enjoy playing for K.O. (Head Coach Kevin O'Connell), and the Wilfs run a top-shelf organization," he added. "Between K.O., [General Manager] Kwesi [Adofo-Mensah], learning under [Defensive Coordinator Brian] Flores, it's been awesome. I learned a lot of things last year that I was never really introduced to throughout my career, which is pretty cool."

View photos of Vikings S Harrison Smith from the 2023 season.

Smith noted his strong connection with Vikings defensive backs coach Daronte Jones and the opportunity to continue learning from him, as well as mentoring his younger teammates in the DB room.

"It's a lot of things," he reiterated.

Smith said he feels good physically and is confident he can continue contributing to the Vikings organization both on and off the field.

"I felt like I should continue," he said.

Smith expressed excitement about the Vikings offseason moves that included drafting new defensive players like Dallas Turner and Khyree Jackson, as well as bringing in familiar free agent faces like former division rivals Aaron Jones and Robert Tonyan.

Though he's never one to put the cart before the horse, Smith feels good about the 2024 team.

"We'll see what happens," he said, "but I like what we've got goin' on."

Asked if he's approaching this as his final season, Smith said he doesn't plan to put a definitive label on it.

"I don't like, I don't know, I just kind of take it day by day – thinking about what I'm doing on the field and how I can get better at that," Smith said. "That kind of simplifies it, and it really lets you enjoy the moment more than saying, 'Oh, this is my last one.'

"That's not really my style," he added. "I just like the action, I like the meetings, I like being around the guys. And when I approach it that way, I tend to get more out of it, and I think I also help add more. Just being in the present and appreciating the opportunity I've got."