Thursday, July 24, 2008

In Rod We Trust

I got worldwide family all over the earth
And I worry 'bout them all for whatever it's worth…

The news of Rod Smith officially retiring comes as no surprise, as he has essentially been out of football for nearly two years. In those two years, Broncos Nation has had a chance to reflect on the undrafted wide receiver, undoubtedly the best in Bronco history.

Smith wasn’t the fastest player out there, but regularly worked opposing corners and safeties to the tune of 800 plus receptions and nearly 70 touchdowns. Precise routes and attention to scouting reports and coaching helped him make his mark.

His initial mark came way back in 1995, when he leapt in the air and caught a John Elway last second pass for a touchdown to win a game versus the Washington Redskins. At the time, he appeared to be just another Shanahan reject who would fade into the waiver wire over the next few years.

But Smith kept working, and he became a fixture in the starting lineup for more than a decade. In the glory years, he and Eddie McCaffery teamed to form the most underrated WR duo in perhaps NFL history. Not only did they rack up big numbers in the passing game, but in the running game as well.

Smith might have great receiving numbers, but it could be his blocking that set him apart from the myriad of late-90’s receivers who will clog the Hall of Fame rolls for the next generation. Smith blocked for nearly ten 1000 yard rushers, clearing the way for an extra five, fifteen, or a touchdown for everyone from Terrell Davis, Clinton Portis to Mike Anderson and beyond.

While many receivers might pout about being asked to do that, Smith went about it like he was supposed to- as part of his job. So much so, that Terrell Davis included him on the traditional offensive line gift list in his 1000 yard seasons.

But Rod could talk with the best of them, he was always on post game interviews it seemed, win or lose. He never really lost his cool or complained too much on the field. Perhaps his best off-the-field comment came when after some verbal darts thrown Denver’s way by Chiefs WR Eddie Kennison, Smith went Patrick Roy on Kennison and flashed both his Super Bowl rings.

Smith will one day grace the Ring of Fame at Mile High, and he’ll get his name bandied about for enshrinement ion Canton. Without question, one could include him in the eleven greatest Bronco players ever.



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