Receiver Steve Smith has a long way to go before he joins the NFL’s elite when it comes to receptions, yards, and touchdowns. But if he does, then he’ll be in the discussion for Canton.
So why not start it now?
“I might be a little presumptuous, but he could be one of the representatives for this team in the Hall of Fame eventually,” coach Ron Rivera recently said, via the Charlotte Observer. “I think he’s earned it. To join the clubs that he has as far as total yardage, 100-yard receiving games, it speaks well, first of all, for his longevity. And second, for his ability to make these kind of plays and do these things year in and year out.”
But Smith won’t take a page from the John Abraham playbook. Or anyone else’s.
“If it comes, that’s great,” Smith said. “I’m not going to Donovan McNabb myself. I’m not going to say what I deserve. I think what I deserve is the opportunities that I’ve gotten by working hard. But I wouldn’t say I deserve it. I mean, stats are there. I just want to play. I enjoy playing. . . . The Hall of Fame used to be one of the top things on my list of goals. But sometimes if you’re so focused on goals, you start to miss other things. So I’m enjoying not missing the other things. And the things you discuss when you’re done playing, I’ll allow that to be my focus when I have all that idle time.”
Smith, 33, currently is 32nd on the all-time reception list with 759, and 26th in receiving yardage with 11,277. But even if he gets to 1,000 catches and/or 14,000 yards, the absence of a Super Bowl ring and the cluster of receivers with big numbers and no titles who haven’t gotten in could keep Smith out.
Then there’s the issue of Smith’s fiery nature. Though the way he behaves shouldn’t matter (just like it shouldn’t matter with Warren Sapp, but many believe it will), Smith on two separate occasions crossed the line by attacking a teammate. That could be hard for voters to overlook.
The best move is to defer the discussion until Smith’s career is over. If he gets toward the top of the statistical stack — and if he ends up with a Super Bowl ring on his finger — maybe he gets in.
Either way, the verbal slap at Donovan McNabb can’t hurt.