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View Full Version : Rod Smith : One Hall of Fame spot down, one to go


Bronco Rob
04-14-2009, 07:50 AM
Being considered a good football player wasn't good enough for Rod Smith.

His bottom line was being the best. Anything below that standard was unacceptable. For more than a decade, he quietly went about establishing Broncos records for pass receiving, leaving the headlines for others.

He practiced as if it were first down and goal to go. If a rookie wanted extra work and some tips on playing the pro game, Smith was there to help.

Only when he officially retired a year ago, unable to come back from a hip injury, did he reflect upon his amazing accomplishments. Perhaps it was then that Bronco Nation realized what No. 80 had done and how much he would be missed.

"I was just a poor, slow guy from a small school (Missouri Southern) who did everything I could for as long as I could," Smith said in a phone interview. "I didn't ruffle feathers. If I was recognized, it was for doing my job. I played football that way."

Smith's way was 849 career receptions, 71 total touchdowns and 11,389 receiving yards. He led the Broncos in receiving six years in a row at the start of this decade, the best career numbers of any undrafted receiver in NFL history.

For his outstanding achievements, Smith will be inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame tonight. He believes the next stop down the line could be Canton, Ohio, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"The numbers speak for themselves," he said.

If there was a driving force behind Smith's tenacity, it was getting overlooked in the 1994 NFL draft after a stellar collegiate career. He was a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy as the NCAA Division II football player of the year.

"I'm still waiting 15 years later for my name to be called," Smith said. "I'm still bitter about the whole draft process."

But he has no bitterness for the Broncos, and he has especially high regard for coaches Wade Phillips and Mike Shanahan. Phillips kept Smith on the Broncos' taxi squad for the 1994 season. Shanahan made him a regular in 1995.

"I knew if they gave me a chance, I would take that shot and make the best of it," Smith said. "If I got the opportunity, I wasn't going to look back and say, 'Woe is me.' Anytime I see Wade Phillips, I go up and thank him. If he hadn't given me the opportunity, no one would have known the kind of player I was."

During his early years with the Broncos, Smith had John Elway throwing him passes.

"You couldn't go wrong with being a teammate of John Elway," Smith said. "He taught me how to be a professional."

Smith prevailed through a period when it seemed that Shanahan always was looking to add a receiver. Smith wondered if he was a target.

"I think at times they were looking for a first receiver and to get rid of my salary," Smith said. "I even got lost in the shuffle at times. I thought they were looking for a receiver to replace me every year."

Smith grew up in the projects of Texarkana, Ark. He carries a food stamp in his pocket to this day as a reminder. His football days are behind him. He has entered private business as a founding member of the ownership of OrGano Gold Coffee, a mixture Smith guarantees will give its drinkers a Rod Smith attitude to start the day.

And though he played on two Super Bowl champions, he said what he misses most about football are the friends he made along the way.

"The Super Bowls were very important, but the highlight for me were the associations and relationships I made,"

Smith said. "I won't get to play on that stage anymore. When I couldn't play anymore at that level, it was time to walk away."

Smith bio

Born: May 15, 1970, in Texarkana, Ark.

High school: Arkansas High School in Texarkana

College: Missouri Southern State University

Family: Sons Roderick and Devin, daughter Vanessa

Hobbies: Golf, reading

Advice: You have to work for everything you get.





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HEAV
04-14-2009, 08:12 AM
#2 Bronco behind Elway. Simply the best undrafted free agent player ever. His work ethic and love for the game are something that you just don't see much anymore in the NFL.

A true leader on and off the field.

baja
04-14-2009, 08:18 AM
Nice nostalgic read. Wish it was a better thread title so more people would click on it.

Conklin
04-14-2009, 10:10 AM
this will be his 2nd hall induction, hes already in the missouri hall of fame

Rabb
04-14-2009, 10:16 AM
#2 Bronco behind Elway. Simply the best undrafted free agent player ever. His work ethic and love for the game are something that you just don't see much anymore in the NFL.

A true leader on and off the field.

absolutely agree

Where's Plummer???
04-14-2009, 10:18 AM
2nd jersey i ever ever owned was smiths right behind my lucky Elway Jersey

OBF1
04-14-2009, 10:24 AM
Hey Pat.... leave a spot on the Ring of Fame for Rod :)

DenverBroncosJM
04-14-2009, 10:59 AM
My all time favorite Bronco. Cant ask for more than this guy gave.

Rock Chalk
04-14-2009, 01:34 PM
God damn shame of it is he wont even sniff the Hall.

Man I loved Rod Smith.

Rohirrim
04-14-2009, 01:54 PM
Still have my #80 hanging in the closet.

Garcia Bronco
04-14-2009, 02:06 PM
80 kept a food stamp in his wallet to remind him of where he could have been had he let up.

kelinsky1
04-14-2009, 06:42 PM
My absolute second favorite Bronco, behind Elway.
Rod let is actions on the field do his talking. You didn't hear any whinning or sniffleing from him. If the team didn't play well, he'd say so in the after game interview, then he'd work harder, trying to inspire the rest of the team. Just let him play.
Man I loved to watch him.
Wish we could clone a couple of him.

Bronco Rob
04-15-2009, 08:32 PM
80 kept a food stamp in his wallet to remind him of where he could have been had he let up.














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