05/01/2012 09:32 EDT | Updated 07/01/2012 05:12 EDT

CFL wide receiver Brad Smith to seek soulmate as star of 'Bachelor Canada'

TORONTO - Canadian Football League wide receiver Brad Smith is entering a new playing field, one that could change his free agent status — in the love department, that is.

On Tuesday, Citytv announced Toronto-based Smith is the star of the inaugural season of "The Bachelor Canada" reality dating series, set to debut this fall.

"I take this experience very seriously, and I truly believe in the process," Smith, 28, said in a news release Tuesday.

"I can't wait to meet all the wonderful Canadian women who have put their lives on hold to experience all of this with me. I hope I can live up to their expectations, as I know they'll absolutely exceed mine."

Raised in a close-knit family in Hudson, Que., Smith has played for the Montreal Alouettes, Toronto Argonauts and the Edmonton Eskimos. His father, Sen. Larry Smith, is a former CFL commissioner and former president and CEO of the Alouettes. Meanwhile, his sister, Ashley, is married to former CFL kicker Damon Duval.

"My wife, Leesa and I, are very proud of Brad and we'll be like everyone else in Canada — looking intently to see how this adventure unfolds during the fall," the senior Smith said in a brief telephone interview, noting he's very supportive of his son's new venture.

"I don't give too much advice out at this stage because I only can remember my parents when I was in a similar situation many, many years ago. You've just got to go with your own heart."

Rogers Media described the free agent, who's taking time off from sports, as "driven, confident, candid and comfortable in his own skin." Inspired by his parents' loving and committed marriage of nearly 40 years, he's looking for "the right woman who will complement both his fun-loving personality and active lifestyle."

"He is attracted to women who are independent, intelligent, and just as confident in a ponytail, sweatpants and sweatshirt as they are all dressed up for a night out on the town," continued the news release.

Photos on "The Bachelor Canada" website have the six-foot-one, blue-eyed brunette looking ruggedly handsome in a leather jacket and jeans, and spiffy in a grey suit.

His bio says he lived in more than a dozen apartments in five years while playing football, a transient career that "made it virtually impossible for him to focus on love." In memory of two of his closest friends who died within 18 months of each other, he got a tattoo on his chest over his heart.

Interviewed by "CityLine" host Tracy Moore Tuesday morning, Smith admitted he's a fan of "The Bachelor" franchise that's popular in the U.S.

"People say, 'Well how can the situation be real?' But when was the last time you ever took two months of your life off and just focused on dating?" he said. "So when people say that stuff is manufactured, I really don't believe it, because if your only focus is somebody else, it's pretty easy to fall (in love)."

Smith also said he's open to the idea of proposing to a woman at the end of the series, if he's in love.

"I think if you didn't have the notion in your head that that would be a possibility, you would defeat the purpose of the show, and I would've never have gone through the auditioning and the processes had I not had that intent."

The American "Bachelor" franchise has already featured several Canadians. They include Vancouver-based interior designer Jillian Harris; Ottawa-bred former football player Jesse Palmer; Oakville, Ont.-born actress Jessie Sulidis; and Toronto wrestler Justin Rego.

Citytv says production on the nine-episode "Bachelor Canada" is now underway and that it will reveal the identities of the host and 25 bachelorettes at a later date.

"Brad is the full package — a quintessentially Canadian, down-to-earth man," said Claire Freeland, director of original programming at Rogers Media and executive producer of "The Bachelor Canada."

"He is completely committed to this experience and in it for the right reasons."


With files from Canadian Press reporter Dan Ralph in Toronto.