Bruce Smith was elected to the Professional Football Hall of Fame today.
For those of you who don’t know him, learn – he is the all-time sack leader and, most importantly to me, a staple to the Buffalo Bills four consecutive Super Bowl appearances (I’ll get this out of the way right now: yes, they did lose all four).
I remember Bruce Smith jerseys being a vivid part of my memories from childhood. Everyone had his, Jim Kelly’s, Andre Reed’s, Thurman Thomas or a combination of several. Poor guys like Don Beebe, Darryl Talley and Mark Kelso – who would be considered among the best players at their positions if they played today – got the shaft in the jersey rotation because they played with Smith, Kelly, Reed and Thomas – who will each be elected to the Hall of Fame if they haven’t already.
Smith – I will say – was my least favorite of the four Buffalo heroes. He could have been tied with Thomas for that nod, but he didn’t embody the public figure status put forth by Kelly, Reed and the other Bills players of the day. Case in point: Jim Kelly held his youth football camp at St. Bonaventure every year. Practically every Bills player made an appearance just so the kids could meet their idols – Smith and Thomas, I remember, were never there.
If Buffalo’s ever had an “I’m-so-good-I-don’t-hang-out-with-peasants” kind of player, Smith – and maybe Thomas – were it.
Another good example would be the old school Buffalo Bills hat I have that’s been signed by every starter on those Super Bowl squads … except – you guessed it – Smith and Thomas.
What other excuse if there for a man who clearly kept on playing to achieve a personal milestone (the sack leader, which was stolen from the late Reggie White, if you ask me)?
Well, to each his own, I guess. Congratulations to Bruce Smith on earning the NFL’s highest award. You deserve it.
(Not that I really think Bruce Smith is reading my blog)