Plenty of great wide receivers have been forgotten about over the past decade. Rod Smith is one of them, as he compiled eight 1,000-yard seasons and earned two Second Team All-Pro selections in a career that saw him as a huge contributor toward two Super Bowl titles with the Denver Broncos.
Thanks to the current crop of wide receivers resetting the record books -- and passing becoming more prevalent than ever -- Smith's legacy has gone by the wayside. Smith still gets on Hall of Fame ballots, but hasn't been selected for induction.
As the Hall Of Fame candidates will be announced for 2024, Smith stated his case why he should be inducted this time around.
"I feel I'm deserving but I don't get to vote," Smith told the Denver Gazette, via Pro Football Talk. "We had a 1,000-yard rusher every year I was there (only one year Denver didn't have a 1,000-yard rusher during Smith's tenure in Denver). You've got to look at my complete body of work.
"During my era, we won more games than just about anybody. At the end of the day, what I cared about more than anything was winning, and they can't take the Super Bowls away from me."
Smith was one of the best receivers of his era, finishing with 849 catches for 11,389 yards and 68 touchdowns in 12 seasons, all with the Broncos. Undrafted out of Missouri Southern in 1994, Smith's 11,389 yards and 68 touchdowns are the most ever by an undrafted player. His 849 catches trail only Wes Walker amongst undrafted players. Smith also holds the Broncos' franchise records in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.
Over the course of Smith's career on an active roster (1995-2006), Smith was fourth in the NFL in receptions, behind Marvin Harrison, Isaac Bruce, and Jimmy Smith. He was fifth in receiving yards behind Harrison, Bruce, Smith, and Terrell Owens. His 68 touchdowns were seventh in the NFL.
Smith was 17th in career receiving yards when he played his last NFL game in 2006 (now 34th) and 11th in receptions (now 30th). While being one of the great players of his era, Smith is a longshot for the Hall of Fame (remember Terrell Owens needed three chances to get in).
Regardless, Smith still earned two Super Bowls and is one of the greatest undrafted players ever. Perhaps Smith has better numbers if he didn't play in a run-first offense, even though he still led the NFL with 113 receptions in 2001.
Making the Hall of Fame is difficult for wide receivers to begin with. Smith certainly will have to present a strong case to the voters to get inducted in 2024, especially since he was never a semi-finalist.