Get a Hartford Courant subscription for less than 29 cents per day

Antonio Smith

Broncos' Smith preparing to play Super Bowl with heavy heart

At first, Antonio Smith thought about running out of the team hotel and catching the first flight home after his mother awakened him with news of his father's death following heart surgery.

"But I know I got a greater purpose and a greater responsibility here on this stage," Smith said Thursday, a day after that phone call shattered the joy of Super Bowl week for him.

Denver's defensive end will play Sunday when the Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers. It's not so much to honor Marty Christopher Williams, 58, but to salute the way his father lived his life even after being sentenced to life in prison.

Williams had been incarcerated in Oklahoma since 1991...