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Jimmy Smith is one of the best wide receivers in NFL history

Smith kept a low profile during his playing days.

Smith kept a low profile during his playing days.

Jacksonville’s Jimmy Smith was first eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2011. He was cut early in the process, failing to be one of the 26 semifinalists selected. A year later, he again failed to make the cut to 26, and was shut out at the same stage a few months ago, too.

To the extent that the Hall of Fame is supposed to mirror the consensus view, Smith’s absence from Canton is justified. But that’s only because he’s tragically underrated. If you take a normative view of how the Hall of Fame should operate, then the lack of traction Smith’s case has made is downright appalling.

No wide receiver of his caliber has ever been so overlooked. Even Art Monk was a finalist for the HOF every single year he was eligible until being inducted in 2008. Ditto Cris Carter, who was a finalist the first five years he was eligible before being selected for the Class of 2013. Tim Brown has been a finalist each of the first four years in which he’s been eligible. Smith, on the other hand, appears to have fallen through Canton’s cracks.

When I came up with my era-adjusted career rankings, Smith came in as the 12th best wide receiver in history. The issue with Smith has never been production but perception. Let’s go through the reasons Smith’s been overlooked.

Reason 1: No one outside of Jacksonville thinks he was that good (in the all-time, Canton sense)

Smith made “only” five Pro Bowls and was never named a first-team All-Pro by any major publication (he was twice named an AP second-team wide receiver). But these subjective awards are not always great indicators: Smith gained 1,636 yards in 1999 but the voters selected Marvin Harrison and Cris Carter over him. Isaac Bruce is the only receiver to gain more yards in a season without being named first-team All-Pro, and that came in 1995, when Herman Moore, Carter, and Jerry Rice, all joined Bruce with 119+ catches and 1,600+ yards. In 1996, Smith wasn’t a household name, and was shut out of the Pro Bowl despite leading the AFC in receiving yards (and in fact, his teammate Keenan McCardell was instead selected). As it stands, Smith’s postseason profile of 5 Pro Bowls/0 1AP isn’t that much different than that of Monk (3/1), Michael Irvin (5/1), or Steve Largent (7/1), and it probably should have been 6 Pro Bowls and 1 1AP.

Reason 2: He ranks only 17th in career receiving yards and 16th in career receptions, which is not outstanding when you remember that he played in a 16-game, pass-happy era.

That’s true. But that’s because Smith had no junk seasons. Outside of his top 10 seasons, he gained just 288 receiving yards. And let’s be honest: how many Hall of Famers are there at any position that would not have been Hall of Fame-worthy if you removed their 11th, 12th, 13th and so-on best seasons?

If we limit receivers to their best 10 seasons by receiving yards, Smith would vault up to 8th on the career list with 11,999 yards. He’d be only three yards behind Reggie Wayne and 143 yards behind Isaac Bruce, and would rank ahead of both of them in receiving yards per game since Smith missed five games during that ten-year period. The only receivers ahead of him in both yards and yards per game: Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, and Terrell Owens. Smith also would rank 8th in career receptions if we limited receivers to their best ten years behind only Rice, Harrison, Carter, Wayne, Tony Gonzalez, Tim Brown, and Holt. In other words, if Smith had some junk years, he’d have top-ten stats. I don’t think the lack of junk years should keep anyone out of the Hall.

Reason #3: It’s not just the lack of career numbers; his peak wasn’t great enough.

From 1996 to 2005, Jacksonville ranked 25th out of 30 teams in pass attempts with only 5,115. And over that time period, he was very nearly Marvin Harrison’s equal in receiving yards. The Colts, however, ranked 4th in pass attempts over that stretch.

Harrison is another player that didn’t have many junk seasons. Like Smith, he was very good from ’96 to ’05, although Harrison was only dominant for the last seven years of that stretch. But outside of another great year in 2006, that decade was basically Harrison’s career. In other words, for ten years, Smith — despite not playing with Peyton Manning and playing on a team that passed infrequently — basically matched the most statistically dominant wide receiver outside of Rice and Don Hutson. That’s incredible.

From 1996 to 2005, Smith trailed only Harrison in receiving yards, and Harrison’s Colts threw an additional 397 passes during that time. The table below shows the top 25 leaders in receiving yards over the decade in question, along with how many passes their teams attempted, the receiver’s receiving yards per team attempt and yards per game averages. The next four columns show what percentage of the receiver’s yards came from which quarterbacks.

Name
RecYd
Att
Y/A
Yd/G
QB 1
QB 2
QB 3
QB 4
Marvin Harrison1233155122.2480.1Peyton Manning (85%)Jim Harbaugh (9%)Paul Justin (3%)Kelly Holcomb (1%)
Jimmy Smith1199951152.3577.4Mark Brunell (65%)Byron Leftwich (20%)David Garrard (5%)Jay Fiedler (3%)
Rod Smith1072551932.0771Brian Griese (35%)Jake Plummer (27%)John Elway (22%)Gus Frerotte (8%)
Terrell Owens1053554361.9474.2Jeff Garcia (51%)Steve Young (23%)Donovan McNabb (18%)Tim Rattay (3%)
Isaac Bruce1022556451.8173.6Kurt Warner (35%)Marc Bulger (27%)Tony Banks (22%)Trent Green (5%)
Randy Moss1014743342.3481.2Daunte Culpepper (55%)Randall Cunningham (15%)Jeff George (10%)Kerry Collins (10%)
Keyshawn Johnson975654041.8164.6Brad Johnson (28%)Vinny Testaverde (19%)Neil O'Donnell (10%)Shaun King (9%)
Keenan McCardell954752731.8164.5Mark Brunell (59%)Brad Johnson (18%)Drew Brees (13%)Jonathan Quinn (2%)
Torry Holt948740822.3286.2Marc Bulger (39%)Kurt Warner (39%)Jamie Martin (8%)Trent Green (6%)
Eric Moulds909651401.7759.1Drew Bledsoe (33%)Doug Flutie (27%)Rob Johnson (16%)Alex Van Pelt (8%)
Tim Brown885847811.8561.9Rich Gannon (54%)Jeff George (20%)Jeff Hostetler (10%)Donald Hollas (5%)
Muhsin Muhammad850151261.6660.7Steve Beuerlein (38%)Jake Delhomme (26%)Kerry Collins (10%)Rodney Peete (9%)
Johnnie Morton809052031.5553.2Charlie Batch (31%)Trent Green (24%)Scott Mitchell (22%)Gus Frerotte (7%)
Joe Horn782252951.4855.5Aaron Brooks (77%)Jeff Blake (10%)Elvis Grbac (8%)Rich Gannon (3%)
Tony Gonzalez781047291.6554.6Trent Green (60%)Elvis Grbac (32%)Rich Gannon (6%)Todd Collins (1%)
Amani Toomer779753371.4652Kerry Collins (65%)Eli Manning (11%)Kent Graham (9%)Kurt Warner (7%)
Terry Glenn777654121.4464.3Drew Bledsoe (71%)Brett Favre (10%)Quincy Carter (10%)Vinny Testaverde (5%)
Jerry Rice777249581.5759.3Rich Gannon (35%)Steve Young (25%)Jeff Garcia (18%)Elvis Grbac (5%)
Joey Galloway746249461.5157.8Quincy Carter (21%)Warren Moon (19%)Chris Simms (12%)Brian Griese (11%)
Eddie Kennison73845159.51.4348.6Trent Green (57%)Tony Banks (17%)Billy Joe Tolliver (6%)Shane Matthews (3%)
Derrick Mason718745961.5652.1Steve McNair (67%)Billy Volek (12%)Kyle Boller (8%)Anthony Wright (7%)
Antonio Freeman714543821.6359Brett Favre (90%)Donovan McNabb (6%)A.J. Feeley (2%)Doug Pederson (1%)
Hines Ward703037371.8855.4Kordell Stewart (34%)Tommy Maddox (32%)Ben Roethlisberger (23%)Mike Tomczak (5%)
Cris Carter669536691.8266.3Daunte Culpepper (28%)Brad Johnson (26%)Randall Cunningham (20%)Jeff George (13%)
Wayne Chrebet663951911.2848.8Vinny Testaverde (43%)Chad Pennington (16%)Neil O'Donnell (14%)Ray Lucas (9%)

Yes, Harrison outgained him, but that’s only because the Colts threw more passes and he had Peyton Manning. In yards per team attempt, Smith ranks first. In yards per game, only Torry Holt, Randy Moss, and Harrison are ahead of him. But Holt and Moss both played in more pass-happy offenses and I think most people would prefer playing with Holt’s set of quarterbacks.

Unfortunately for Smith, he’s dinged by many for the simple fact that his teams didn’t throw that often. But a wide receiver can’t control how often his team passes, only what he does when a pass is called. Smith lacks a signature moment, but not a signature game. Against the 2000 Ravens, running wasn’t an option for any opponent. This was especially true for the Jaguars, who were relegated to Stacey Mack as their starter with Fred Taylor out with a knee injury. In the first quarter, Brunell hit Smith for touchdowns of 43 and 45 yards to give Jacksonville a 17-0 lead. But the Ravens came back, and held a 32-29 lead with two minutes remaining. On third and six, Brunell connected with Smith for a 40-yard touchdown, giving the Jags a 36-32 lead (that the defense would relinquish to Tony Banks and Shannon Sharpe). For the day, Smith had 15 catches for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Reason #4: He didn’t score enough touchdowns

This is the most valid criticism of Smith, but it’s not significant enough to overshadow an outstanding resume. From 1996 to 2000, the Jaguars ranked 6th in points scored and 3rd in points differential. But Jacksonville was one of just three teams over that five-year period to rush for 90 touchdowns; the Jags simply didn’t pass that often when near the goal line. Even when the team struggled over the next few years, Jacksonville still boasted strong rushing touchdown numbers.

Only 17 of Smith’s career touchdowns came from within ten yards. He simply wasn’t force-fed near the goal line. I won’t argue that he was on the level of Harrison, Moss, or Owens when it comes to scoring, but those are three of the greatest receivers in NFL history. Smith also caught them when it counted: he scored 10 touchdowns in the fourth quarter or overtime with his team tied or trailing by 7 or fewer points. That’s more than Moss (9) or Harrison (5), and only one behind Cris Carter and two behind Owens.

And it’s important not to overstate the value of a touchdown, either. It’s roughly 20 yards, and that was included in the calculation that placed Smith as the 12th most valuable receiver in NFL history. For a ten-year period, he was one of the game’s best players. He shouldn’t be forgotten.

{ 35 comments… add one }

  • Allen March 4, 2013, 12:56 am

    He’s so underrated that if you type in “Jimmy Smith highlights” on YouTube, the videos are pretty much all about the Raven’s hardly-relevant CB.

  • Matt Waldman March 4, 2013, 7:22 am

    Amen. Great player.

    • Chase Stuart March 4, 2013, 4:16 pm

      Thanks Matt. Glad you’re on board.

  • Quinton March 4, 2013, 8:25 am

    It’s nice to have my insights as a ten-year-old confirmed.

    Not sure how to rank it for value as a signature moment but he did catch a huge touchdown in the 96 playoff win against Denver. Certainly one of my fondest memories of him

    • Chase Stuart March 4, 2013, 6:26 pm

      True. I really hate to play the ‘small market’ card, but there’s probably some of that going on here.

  • Shattenjager March 4, 2013, 11:18 am

    Great post. Jimmy Smith was criminally underrated, to the point that I have seen a number of Hall of Fame discussions about wide receivers start with a list of leaders in receiving yards and then saying, “Clearly, we can throw out Jimmy Smith immediately.” He was a great player who never got his due.

    • Chase Stuart March 4, 2013, 4:16 pm

      Thanks man. I hear ya – he certainly gets disrespected in these discussions.

  • John March 4, 2013, 4:48 pm

    Do you think his off-field issues are effecting(affecting?) his chances? Idk if canton considers those things or not, but i think that’s the main reason he hasn’t even been inducted into the Jaguars Ring of Honor

    • JWL March 4, 2013, 5:31 pm

      Jimmy Crack Corn and Canton doesn’t care.

      The voters didn’t hold Lawrence Taylor’s crack problems against him.

      I know we are talking about a different level of a player here, but if drug use was an issue at all, then Taylor would have had to wait.

    • Chase Stuart March 4, 2013, 6:28 pm

      Yeah, I don’t think that’s keeping him out.

  • Allen March 4, 2013, 8:58 pm

    I know this idea sounds like a comment on a Freakonomics blog post, but I wonder how much having such a plain name hurt. I’m serious. Obviously other factors outweigh it in influence, but I really don’t think it’s crazy to say it probably has a small negative effect. I doubt a discussion here in the comments section would be very evidence-based / productive, but I just wanted to throw that idea out somehow.

    • Richie March 4, 2013, 10:08 pm

      Interesting theory. Especially when you look at that 1996 season. So weird that McCardell gets the Pro Bowl and Smith doesn’t. Smith had more yards on slightly fewer receptions, and then he had 7 TD’s compared to 3 for McCardell.

      The one other thing is that McCardell had a 232-yard game on October 20th of that year. Then Smith had 4 games (162, 135, 131, 124) that bested McCardell’s next-best game (107 yards).

      Maybe that huge game was enough to catapult him past Smith? Smith had 3 of those games on November 24th or later. (Not sure how much the December games were discarded for Pro Bowl decisions in those days.)

      I remember playing fantasy football in those days, and Smith always seemed like a nice player to get, but he never seemed to be one of the highest-sought players. It was kind of like each season seemed like a fluke, even though they kept happening.

    • Shattenjager March 5, 2013, 12:07 am

      I don’t doubt that it would have an effect, albeit a relatively small one. After all, there is a reason why record companies, movie studios, and music producers have so often promoted name changes from the relatively plain to the memorable, even if it means changing from an innocuous name like Arnold Dorsey to something very strange like Engelbert Humperdinck.

  • Tim Truemper March 5, 2013, 9:47 am

    Jimmy Smith almost didn’t have an NFL career which really would have been a shame. He was drafted in the 2nd round by Dallas in 1992, had a broken leg and a near fatal appendectomy. Was dissed by Jerry Jones who didn’t want to pay him for the medical illness that put Jimmy on injured reserve. Was picked up by the Eagles after Dallas cut him in 1994 and then went to Jacksonville. As so well documented above, the rest was (illustrious) history. As I have maintained before, getting into the HOF is determined by gross numbers or some outstanding all time record (think Hornung and points in one season), being on a consistent winner or even better, a dynasty, or having some legendary status that is bestowed by the media and then never goes away (think Hornung and the golden boy). Jimmy Smith apparently has the numbers at the margins if traditional descriptive statistics are used, but lacks the other credentials. Obscurity is hell, and unjust.

    • Chase Stuart March 5, 2013, 3:03 pm

      Agreed.

  • draftrobot March 5, 2013, 3:19 pm

    Excellent analysis about a cause I pretty much gave zero thought about. Have you ever thought about doing a similar piece on Sterling Sharpe? His time was slightly before I started watching the NFL, but the more I look at his numbers, he was an amazing player who at his peak dominated over contemporary Hall of Fame and near-Hall of Fame players (cough Cris Carter).

    • JWL March 5, 2013, 7:36 pm

      Sharpe was better than Carter. He would already be in the PFHOF had his career lasted a couple more seasons. He is the WR version of Terrell Davis. Sharpe was the 2nd best WR I have seen. Rice was the best. Calvin Johnson is not at Sharpe’s level yet.

  • JeremyDe March 7, 2013, 1:55 pm

    Keltner List for Sterling Sharpe? (or Jimmy Smith for that matter)

    Does anyone do a Keltner for football? Not sure if Chase likes the concept of the list, or if it fits into the site, but I always thought they were good discussions/reads on the basketball-ref site when Neil did them.

    • Richie March 7, 2013, 2:55 pm

      I made up a Keltner list for football a few years ago. It’s never been vetted.

      Keltner List for Sterling Sharpe

      1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in football? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in football? no

      2. Was he the best player on his team? From 89 to 92 he was surely the best. The only competition was Tim Harris. In 1993 and 94 guys like Favre, Reggie White and LeRoy Butler might have been better.

      3. Was he the best player in football at his position? Was he the best player in the conference at his position? It’s close. His prime was up against some of Rice’s best seasons, but Sharpe might have been the best WR in 1992.

      4. Did he have an impact on a number of playoff races? helped the Packers to the playoffs twice.

      5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime? Don’t know. Injuries forced early retirement.

      6. Is he the very best football player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame? Possibly

      7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame? No

      8. Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards? No

      9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics? Yeah, probably better because he retired during his peak.

      10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame? Possibly – depending on how you value peak vs career.

      11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? No MVP’s. Probably worth consideration in 89, 92 and 93.

      12. How many Pro Bowl-type seasons did he have? How many Pro Bowl games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many Pro Bowl games go into the Hall of Fame? 5 Pro Bowls and 3 All Pros. Probably wasn’t robbed in any other seasons. Only one HOF WR (Rice, with 10!) had more All Pros than Sharpe, but most HOF WR have more than 5 Pro Bowls.

      13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could make it to the Super Bowl? Yes

      14. What impact did the player have on football history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way? No large impact.

      • Chase Stuart March 7, 2013, 3:12 pm

        Good stuff, Richie.

    • JeremyDe March 7, 2013, 2:57 pm

      After I posted, I read the Keltner questions again and realized that some of them wouldn’t translate well to football. Football has more than twice as many players both on the roster and starting as baseball, and 4 times more than basketball on both counts. I changed a couple questions to try to balance out the inequalities. For example, question 1 on the baseball keltner, about MVP seasons, would be pointless for football. A non-QB (or on rare occasions a RB/LB/WR) would never matter for this question.

      1.Was he ever regarded as the best player at his position? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best at his position?
      2.Was he the best player on his team? Or at least on his side of the ball?
      3.Did he have an impact on a number of Playoff games? Did he have a signature game/moment?
      4.Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
      5.Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?
      6.Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?
      7.Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
      8.Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?
      9.How many All Pro-type seasons did he have? Was he ever an All Pro? If not, how many times was he close?
      10.How many Pro Bowl seasons did he have? How many Pro Bowls did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?
      11.During his career, was there much competition for postseason awards/honors at his position?
      12.If this player is one of the best players on your team, does he give you a significant edge to win a division? conference? super bowl? (football is so interconnected that only QBs would get a yes on this question the way it was originally written, but if all positions are considered equal for argument-sake, does this player give you a dramatic edge?)
      13.What impact did the player have on football history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

      Just an idea. Anyone with an idea to make the questions better, please feel free.

  • sn0mm1s March 7, 2013, 4:49 pm

    I think that TDs are a big mark against him. It is especially difficult for a WRs to score short TDs because that means they need to get open when the field is short. Here is the list of receiving TDs of 10 yards or less compiled by WRs/TEs from 1996-2005. The list is the name/first year played during period/last year played during period/total TDs/TDs per year of 10 yards or less. I didn’t take into account years missed, games missed, or pass attempts, or % of pass TDs. Pro football reference decided a while back to not provide their stats any longer so I don’t do much detailed analysis unless I have a ton of spare time.

    Marvin Harrison 1996 2005 IND 40 4
    Terrell Owens 1997 2005 SFO/PHI 36 4
    Cris Carter* 1996 2002 MIN/MIA 30 4.285714286
    Randy Moss 1998 2005 MIN/OAK 25 3.125
    Isaac Bruce 1996 2004 STL 24 2.666666667
    Wesley Walls 1996 2002 CAR 24 3.428571429
    Bubba Franks 2001 2005 GNB 23 4.6
    Tony Gonzalez 1997 2004 KAN 22 2.75
    Muhsin Muhammad 1998 2005 CAR/CHI 21 2.625
    Joe Horn 1999 2004 KAN/NOR 20 3.333333333
    Keyshawn Johnson 1996 2005 NYJ/TAM/DAL 20 2
    Ed McCaffrey 1996 2000 DEN 19 3.8
    Hines Ward 1999 2005 PIT 19 2.714285714
    Bobby Engram 1996 2005 CHI/SEA 18 1.8
    Ricky Proehl 1996 2005 SEA/CHI/STL/CAR 18 1.8
    Tim Brown 1996 2002 OAK 17 2.428571429
    Rickey Dudley 1996 2003 OAK/TAM 17 2.125
    Antonio Freeman 1996 2002 GNB/PHI 17 2.428571429
    Jerry Rice* 1996 2002 SFO/OAK 17 2.428571429
    Jimmy Smith 1996 2005 JAX 17 1.7
    Rod Smith 1997 2005 DEN 17 1.888888889

    I remember Jimmy Smith compiling a bunch of yards between the 20s where yards are easy and having enough speed to break some long TDs – but not a reliable red zone threat. I think for a WR to make the HOF they need to be a reliable red zone threat especially in the era of the pass.

    • Chase Stuart March 7, 2013, 4:52 pm

      It’s a fair criticism. But he also played for teams that liked to run the ball near the goal line, which has to factor into the equation, too. In the end, though, how much of knock is “not an elite goal line threat” on a WR?

      • sn0mm1s March 7, 2013, 5:19 pm

        Pretty big – either consciously or subconsciously when judging WRs. If you look at the top of that list I would say those top 5 are likely locks for the HOF. The only other locks on the list after those top 5 are Rice (obviously) and TGonz. Tim Brown will likely get in as well – but we are also comparing Rice and Brown’s waning years to Smith’s prime.

        I think this is the same reason why Wes Welker isn’t considered elite and I don’t think he will make the HOF either. You can give me lists about receptions and yardage compiled but unless a WR has the ability to get into the end zone from anywhere on the field I don’t think that they will ever get much consideration (especially in the pass happy league we are in now). Besides 1 year I think most would argue that Welker wasn’t even the best WR on his team – the guys that scored TDs were (Moss and Gronk). I think AJ falls into this category as well (although many consider AJ #1 in the NFL) – I never put him above Moss, Fitz, CJ etc. etc. due to his inability to get into the end zone.

        As a tangent I use the exact opposite criteria when I rank RBs. Short TDs (1-3 yards or so) don’t impress me (since a QB is more successful running from short yardage than a RB). The guys that can score from 10+ yards out are the dangerous players. Once you get in close the Oline, closeness to the goal line, and closeness to the LOS play more of a role than the skill/ability of the runner.

      • Richie March 7, 2013, 5:21 pm

        Michael Irvin jumped to mind as a guy who might have a low percentage of <10-yard TD's because Dallas seemed to always run when they had the ball close to the goal line.

        During Irvin's career, the Cowboys scored 233 TD's of 0-10 yards. Irvin scored 23 of them (9.9%).

        During Smith's career, the Jaguars scored 202 TD's of 0-10 yards. Smith scored 17 of them (8.4%).

        Smith needed 3 more TD's (over 10 seasons) to match Irvin's percentage.

        I can't say that Smith's lower production had more to do with ability or scheme.

        And just for comparison:
        Cris Carter (with Minnesota only) caught 21%.
        Marvin Harrison 17%.
        Terrell Owens (SF, Phi, Dal only) 17%.

        Those 3 guys were all on much more pass-oriented teams.

        • Chase Stuart March 7, 2013, 5:31 pm

          I’m with Richie. Great stats there.

        • sn0mm1s March 7, 2013, 6:32 pm

          I think the difference between Irvin and Smith would widen considerably if you took into account games where they actually played – and didn’t look at total TDs but passing TDs instead. If you are taking Irvin 1988-1999 the Cowboys passed less each season than the Jags from 1996-2005. During that time Irvin missed 33 games to Smith’s 5.

          1991-1998 Irvin (missing 5 games) scores 29% of his team’s receiving TDs. Smith 1996-2005 scores 21% of the Jags receiving TDs.

  • Duff Soviet Union March 11, 2013, 12:15 am

    Wow, I’m late to this.

    Great article Chase. I always rated Jimmy Smith higher than most and rolled my eyes at the “accumulator” label he had, but even I was surprised to see him come out this well.

    You know what would be illustrative? A Jimmy Smith vs Irving Fryar blog post. Both those guys are very superficially similar but remarkably different if you look closer. They’re pretty much next to each other on the career receptions and yardage list, they both made 5 Pro Bowls and they both had drug problems. So Smith’s his generations Irving Fryar, right? The ELO rater at football-reference has Fryar well ahead of Smith probably due to Fryar’s touchdown edge and the fact that a lot of his yards came before the passing explosion in the mid 90’s. And yet Smith ranks 12th in your system and Fryar ranks 120th! Looking at Fryar’s numbers it’s remarkable how much “fat” is in there with regards to below average seasons. I’d say 40% of his receptions, 40% of his yardage and 48% of his touchdowns were accumulated in below average seasons! Smith got none of that. Fryar might be the biggest “accumulator” in receiving history, while Smith would be the smallest (ironic considering his rep).

    • BLACKnBLUEnGOLD March 14, 2013, 11:50 am

      Jimmy Smith had a drug problem?

      I have no memory whatsoever of that. Of course, given the state of my memory, that certainly doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

  • Duff Soviet Union March 11, 2013, 12:20 am

    As a follow up, here’s how I think of Smith and Fryar.

    Think of two men, very similar in height and weight. However one of them (lets call him J. Smith, no that’s too obvious. How about Jimmy S?) is 100% muscle with the absolute bare minimum of body fat. Meanwhile the other man (I. Fryar) has roughly half as much muscle but makes up for the weight difference due to a massive beer gut.

  • BLACKnBLUEnGOLD March 14, 2013, 11:55 am

    Smith would already be in the Hall if his two seasons on Dallas’s injured reserve counted as Super Bowl appearances. The committee loves Cowboys.

  • Alex Larsen March 25, 2013, 5:17 pm

    14. What impact did the player have on football history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way? No large impact.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, I was young when he was playing, but didn’t he suffer a really bad turf toe injury that was blamed on AstroTurf? I know the neck injury was what ended his career, but I think his Turf Toe was responsible for the backlash that saw AstroTurf removed from NFL fields.

    • Richie March 25, 2013, 6:48 pm

      I don’t recall a specific injury to Sterling Sharpe ending AstroTurf. I think most players hated playing on AstroTurf, and it seemed to cause an increase in injuries, and also a better alternative was finally invented. All of these led to the better product.

  • dating July 31, 2013, 1:09 am

    Actually no matter if someone doesn’t understand then its up to other users that they will help, so here it takes place.

  • Sandra Roberts September 8, 2013, 8:09 pm

    I think of Jimmy Smith often. Especially when I see how terrible the Jaguars are now. He will never be forgotten! We’ll always love him. I pray that he’s gotten his life back on track with the help of God and a very, very, very, good friend.

    Love you always Jimmy,
    Sandra Roberts

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