Steve Smith, Sr. was one of the most productive wide receivers of his generation. The 16-year NFL vet retired in January after amassing 1,031 catches for 14,731 yards and 81 touchdowns, all top-12 marks in league history. Despite a lack of size at just 5-foot-9, Smith was known for his toughness and ability as a dynamic return man. He and Hall of Famer Tim Brown are the only two players ever to total 13,000 receiving yards and 4,000 return yards.
The “other” Steve Smith – not the five-time Pro Bowler and 2005 Comeback Player of the Year – was nominated for the Hall of Fame in an announcement that had the football world buzzing.
While the 38-year-old Smith is on his way to eventually joining Brown in Canton, it came as a surprise when he was nominated for next year’s class. The NFL has a five-year waiting period following a player’s retirement before he is eligible to be inducted. Other nominees at receiver this year included the likes of Randy Moss, Isaac Bruce and Terrell Owens.
To be clear though, it was the “other” Steve Smith who got nominated. The former USC Trojan – also a receiver – retired in 2013 after a six-year NFL career in which he made 245 catches for 2,641 yards (including one 1,000 yard season) and 12 touchdowns. A nice career to be sure, but hardly Hall of Fame material.
According to the Hall of Fame, “[a]ny fan may nominate any qualified person who has been connected with pro football in any capacity simply by writing to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The only restriction is that a player and coach must have last played or coached at least five seasons before he can be considered.”
Clearly, this was a mistake and one that will soon be corrected. Eventually the field will be narrowed down to the semi-finalists, a select group of 25 players. Nevertheless, we can’t help but chuckle given the dichotomy of the former Panthers and Ravens great compared to his lesser namesake.
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