Jimmy Smith, a five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who is arguably the best player in the short history of the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise, recently began serving a six-year prison sentence for gun and drug crimes.
Although it has gone largely unnoticed in the media, Smith has been in prison in Mississippi since March 29, and his tentative release date is November 8, 2018.
Smith was sentenced to four years in prison for possession of cocaine and two years in prison for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
It’s sad to see anyone end up like this, but it’s particularly sad for Smith because his NFL career ought to be an inspirational story of a guy who believed in himself when few others did — and was proven right. He played his college ball at Jackson State after no big-time schools gave him a look coming out of high school, and he persevered after his football career fizzled in his first three years in the NFL, with the Cowboys cutting him in 1993 and the Eagles cutting him in 1994. Through his first three years in the NFL, he hadn’t caught a single pass.
But when the expansion Jaguars picked Smith up in 1995, he became a star: He lasted 11 years in Jacksonville and topped 1,000 yards in nine of those seasons, and by the end of his career he had totaled 862 catches for 12,287 yards and 67 touchdowns. Unfortunately, off-field trouble also plagued Smith: He was arrested for drunk driving in 2001 and suspended four games in 2003 for a failed drug test. Now his drug problem has ensured that he’ll be behind bars for a long time.