It was a Sunday full of nerves and excitement for Samantha Russell, watching her son, D’Ante Smith, play in the AFC Championship with the Cincinnati Bengals against the Kansas City Chiefs. Family and friends gathered in Russell’s living room, decked out in Bengals gear to watch and cheer on Smith and his team.

When asked who was more nervous about the game, Russell admits, it’s probably her. “We usually do prayer together on the morning of the games, so I’ve already talked to him this morning,” said Russell.

“We’ve done some texting and some praying and I’ve given him some well-wishes and some love,” she added.

Smith, a former Grovetown High School standout out and now a rookie in the NFL, was drafted by the Bengals out of East Carolina in the 4th round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He wears No. 70 and plays on the offensive line, including one start during the regular season.

“To see him do things that he’s always set his mind to do is awesome,” said Russell.

Russell and other family members traveled to nine games during the regular season, but she admits she’s not a huge fan of going to games when the weather gets too cold. “It’s been great, I’ve loved going to Cincinnati, the atmosphere is great and getting to watch them grow as a team,” said Russell.

Right before kickoff, the family got a facetime call from Russell’s brother, who was at the game in Kansas City. “It’s cold, but Who Dey!,” said her brother through the phone, echoing the Bengals team rally call.

The Bengals beat the Chiefs in overtime, 27-24 and are headed to the Super Bowl in Los Angeles. And you can be sure mom will be there to watch her son. “I don’t know how the tickets work, but I hope I’m the guaranteed one,” she exclaimed with a smile. “I’m pretty sure we’ll rally together, but if there’s only one ticket, mom gets that ticket!”