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Seriously, why hasn’t Broncos Rod Smith sniffed the Hall of Fame?

When you look at it, it’s kind of amazing he’s not more part of the conversation.

broncos ring of fame plaza Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

In the latest Something Something Broncos, fill-in host Chad McKnight and I break down just how ridiculous it is for less-qualified receivers to be considered for the Hall of Fame over Denver’s Rod Smith.

With the retirement of Julian Edelman, Boston-twanged accents couldn’t wait to trumpet him as the next great Hall of Famer-elect. Don’t get me wrong, Edelman had a mighty fine career, 3-time Super Bowl Champion, 2018 Super Bowl MVP, 620 receptions, 6,822 receiving yards, 41 touchdowns, was a member of the Patriots All-2010’s team, but it’s significant that he was selected to not a single Pro Bowl.

If a resume like that is what lands you a bust in Canton and a gold jacket, it’s no wonder that Michael Irvin got the nod back in 2007. A 3-time Super Bowl Champion, 750 receptions, 11,904 receiving yards, 65 touchdowns, First team All-Pro in 1991, Second-team All-Pro in 1992 and 1993, and a member of the 1990’s All-Decade team, NFL receptions leader in 1991, Irvin was selected to 5 Pro Bowls (1991-1995).

So now, let’s take a look at Denver’s Rod Smith. 2-time Super Bowl champion, 849 receptions, 11,389 receiving yards, 68 touchdowns, Second-team All Pro in 2000 and 2001, NFL receptions leader in 2001, Smith went to 3 Pro Bowls - all after John Elway retired (2000, 2001, & 2005).


Player Super Bowl Won Super Bowl MVP Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns First-Team All-Pro Second-Team All Pro NFL Receptions Leader Pro Bowls
Player Super Bowl Won Super Bowl MVP Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns First-Team All-Pro Second-Team All Pro NFL Receptions Leader Pro Bowls
Julian Edelman 2 2018 620 6,822 41
Michael Irvin 3 750 11,904 65 1991 1992, 1993 1991 5
Rod Smith 2 849 11,389 68 2000, 2001 2001 3

Looking at this table, if I told you that there were two Hall of Famers on it, your selection would most certainly not be Julian Edelman. Media figures were quick to seize on Edelman’s lack of qualifications by bandying about this bogus stat that he had the second-most post-season receiving yards next to Jerry Rice. While meaningful, that stat alone doesn’t tip the scale, even if he was first on that list. Let’s not forget that Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick made these stats possible during an era of unparalleled success. He’s not exactly the kind of guy who had to overcome adversity to succeed during the most successful run an NFL franchise has ever seen.

Michael Irvin is much the same story, he too played on a team riddled with talent, many who are already in the Hall of Fame. I will give it to him, he did win those 3 Super Bowls under two different coaches and, let’s be honest, Troy Aikman wasn’t all that terrific a quarterback either (doesn’t appear in the the top twenty all-time passing yards, passing completions, or passing touchdowns — but debating his Hall of Fame credentials is another article altogether).

Then there’s Rod Smith. Rod had terrific years, but as you can see above, he actually hit his stride after John Elway retired. His Second-Team All Pros and Pro Bowls all came with a combination of Brian Griese, Gus Ferrotte, Jarious Jackson, Jake Plummer, and Bradlee Van Pelt throwing him the ball.

Let us not forget that there was never a guarantee that Rod was going to make it in the NFL; he was undrafted. Even more importantly, Rod was a nose-down football kind of guy, free of any scandal (outside of getting ejected from a game for accidentally whacking a referee in the face). Julian Edelman played on a Patriots team riddled with cheating scandals and he, himself, was suspended in 2018 for testing positive for PEDs. Then there’s Michael Irvin who was suspended for 5 games in 1996 for cocaine possession and has been hounded by accusations of sexual impropriety both during and after his playing career.

You want Super Bowls? You want stats? You want character? You want an ability to overcome adversity? You want the story of a hard worker that beat the odds as an undrafted player? There’s really is no reason why Rod Smith shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. If the bar is low enough for Julian Edelman to sneak in, there should be no question that Rod Smith was qualified years ago.


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