Tripp Smith's summer home the past two years would make most people jealous.
The nice house, backing up to the Tennessee River, is surrounded by a boat dock, motorcycles, trucks and other toys. But Smith doesn't own the place. He was just a tenant.
He also had a very large, high-profile landlord in Albert Haynesworth, all 6-foot-6, 350 pounds of him. Smith kept a basement bedroom at Haynesworth's place as part of his summer duty as personal strength and conditioning coach for one of the highest paid players in NFL history.
Smith's family business, Competitive Edge Sports, annually brings large packs of NFL talent to Duluth for offseason training. But in rare instances, the trainer goes to the player. His father, Chip Smith, made similar trips in the past with Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.
Now his son is following the same path with Haynesworth.
"(Haynesworth's) bigger than us, he makes more money than us, but he's just a regular guy," said Smith, a 2000 North Gwinnett grad who has worked full-time with CES since 2004 after his college football career finished at Virginia Military Institute. "He's a good guy. We've become pretty good friends. It's more than a client-trainer relationship."
Smith admitted he didn't know what to expect last summer, his first with Haynesworth. He wasn't sure he would have much in common with the Pro Bowl defensive lineman, who has a seven-year, $100 million deal with the Washington Redskins.
As it turns out, the two shared virtually exact interests outside of football.
They both love water and fishing, so they take advantage of Haynesworth's five boats, including a yacht and a speed boat that goes 155 mph. They both enjoy taking trucks and four-wheelers off road. Yep, Haynesworth's got those, too. They're both motorcycle buffs, too, so Smith brings his four bikes up and rides with Haynesworth, who has four of his own.
In short, they're both big kids. That bond has served them well the past two summers. They train hard in the mornings at the University of Tennessee, they're done by lunch and they play hard the rest of the day.
"We train in the mornings and in the afternoon we'll go out on the water or ride motorcycles or take his rock-crawling truck to the mountains or go to the dock and fish," Smith said. "He and I are very similar in our activities ... He's just a good old boy from a country town (Hartsville) in South Carolina and I grew up on the lake. He's just a simple guy."
Haynesworth developed a bad reputation in the past for his temper, famously receiving a suspension for stomping on the face of Dallas Cowboys lineman Andre Gurode back in 2006. Smith hasn't seen that side of Haynesworth, who he described as "probably the most laid back, mellow person you'll ever meet" off the field.
Sure, he's not always happy when Smith wakes him up for morning workouts. But he pushes through, knowing the two have an afternoon of fun ahead of them.
"It depends year to year on what he wants, but I think as long as he's healthy and playing, I'd like to be there (training him) from here on out," Smith said. "Whether he comes down here or I go up there, I think we'll work together for a long time."
Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Thursdays.