Smith, who had been suspended since 2015 for violation of the NFL's personal conduct and substance abuse policies, discussed his reinstatement during an interview with TMZ Sports. Asked about what it will be like to get back on the field after being suspended for over four seasons, Smith said that situation has "played in my head."
"I think the overall emotion is I'm grateful. I'm really grateful," Smith said. "... I came a long way. For me to have the opportunity to get back and do something that I love, something that I enjoyed -- just to have that opportunity again means a lot. I was able to defeat some big, big obstacles in my life."
Smith has been arrested numerous times in his career for offenses including DUIs and domestic violence. In 2018, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years' probation after pleading no contest to violating a court order and false imprisonment to settle the domestic violence case. He served the sentence in an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center.
He said he is now sober, telling TMZ that he wants his story to be an inspiration for others.
"I just want my story to spread and help out others," Smith said. "For people who may have thought differently about me and for those people who always believed in me to be able to say, 'Wow, this is great.' Because I believe everybody goes through things in their life, and no matter what they do for a profession, it affects them in a manner that can either be their downfall or it can be something they look at and learn from. I want people to see my story and see it and be like, 'Hey man, he can do it; he's done it.' I want to be a source of inspiration."
Smith had 47.5 sacks in 59 games before his suspension. He told TMZ he is now "an overall better person."
"I was able to play at a high level with a lot of other things going on in my life," he said. "With how life is for me now, I'm just looking forward to seeing what I can do."
Now 30, Smith told TMZ, "I still feel young."
"I don't have the mileage on my body," Smith said. "I still feel great when I go to the gym. I still feel young and fresh. So, if anything, I'm looking forward to what I'm going to be able to do out there."
Smith will be able to take part in meetings with Cowboys coaches and teammates in the virtual offseason program beginning Tuesday. He signed a one-year contract with the Cowboys in April. By being reinstated, he will receive $90,000 from the Cowboys and can make up to $4 million if he reaches multiple incentives in the contract.