Earlier this week, Rod Smith told Chris Tomasson of the Denver Gazette, “I feel I’m deserving but I don’t get to vote...” when asked about him not getting a serious look as Hall of Fame candidate.
As a long-time member of Broncos Country who actually watched this man play the game, let me start by saying Rod Smith was an absolute badass on the field of play. He made big catches in big games and always looked like a guy that was just hungrier than everyone defending him on every play he went after. I friggin’ love me some Rod Smith.
But as someone who loves to analyze this team and share my no-bull opinions on them, I have to take off the fan cap for a question like this and dig deeper than nostalgia and my own love of a player who gave me so many fond memories.
The NFL Hall of Fame has many problems with how it is run, but I tend to enter discussions about it using my own standard. Here are (in no particular order) the things I weigh when I look at whether someone should be in the running to be in the Hall of Fame:
- Longevity - Great players play great for a long time typically
- Elite play - Stats should stand out at a career-long level for a HOF player
- Unique ability - Some players can do things no one else can do (example: Randy Moss). That’s worth something in my books
- Playoff / Championship pedigree - The best who ever played should have been playing against the best in the league at the end of the season and hopefully won a championship
Given that this is such a subjective thing, there’s no hard and fast ranking, weighing, or any other objective thing you can do here to give an answer of who is hall of fame worthy, but kicking these four things around should give you an idea of whether a player is worth bringing up in the nomination room.
So let’s rate Rod on these 4 things on a scale of 1 - 10 and see if we have any smoke to work with:
Rod Smith played for 12 seasons in the NFL with his first 2 being pretty pedestrian. A 10 year productive career is pretty darn good in the NFL given that the average WR in the NFL players averages under 3 years.
Elite Play: 6
Rod Smith was fantastic when you look at team stats. The problem here is that you need to compare him to the league. When you do that (https://www.pro-football-reference.com/hof/hofm_WR.htm), it is pretty hard from a raw stats perspective to say he has what it takes to be discussed.
He’s 18th on the list of players not yet in the Hall of Fame.
Receiving Yards: 11,389
Smith is the 16th-best player eligible for the Hall in receiving yards.
Oof... he’s 27th in touchdowns.
Unique Ability: 4
Rod Smith wasn’t taller, faster, quicker, or a better jumper than other wide receivers. When you think about what made him great, the word that comes to mind is elite effort. Smith friggin’ wanted it. That’s not a largely unique trait when we start talking about the best of the best in the NFL. One thing you could argue is that he did so much without any specific elite ability to use as leverage in his game.
Playoff / Championship Pedigree: 9
Saving the best for last, the one thing you can say about Rod Smith is that he saw success in the postseason. He’s got an 8-5 record in the postseason including 2 Super Bowl Rings. He wasn’t just along for the ride either. He had 49 catches for 860 yards with 6 TDs in the postseason and was a consistent force in the playoffs (though let’s not talk about Super Bowl XXXII where the Broncos' passing game was mostly non-existent).
When you start looking outside of Denver Bronco history, it gets pretty difficult to put in Rod Smith over guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Torry Holt, or Reggie Wayne. Now, if we do more to open up how many players get in? Maybe we have a different conversation. But as it stands now, I think the Broncos Ring of Fame is the right place for Rod. He’s the G.O.A.T. of Denver Broncos wide receivers, after all.
Is Rod Smith deserving of a Hall of Fame vote?
This poll is closed