When we unveil next month on NBC Sports Network’s Pro Football Talk the four members of each franchise’s Mt. Rushmore, former Jaguars receiver Jimmy Smith could land on the Jacksonville version.
Earlier this year, he landed in a far worse place, for a tentative stay of six years.
It’s a sad story for a player who had an inspiring career, but it’s hardly a shock. He had been arrested on drug charges in 2009, three years after his retirement from the NFL. And when he called it quits in 2006, Smith’s departure came amid rumors of a looming cocaine-related suspension — and whispers of behind-the-scenes threats of litigation for anyone who would dare to publish those rumors.
Regardless of whether the rumors at the time were true, the reality is that cocaine has done far more than possibly end Smith’s football career prematurely. Four of his six years behind bars flow from a conviction for cocaine possession.
What’s surprising is the manner in which Smith’s legal troubles avoided the media’s radar screen. A third of his current prison term comes from the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, which means he already was a convicted felon — a fact that was never widely reported.
The prior conviction flowed from the 2009 arrest, which resulted from police finding crack cocaine, marijuana, and a business card with cocaine residue in Smith’s car. Smith later pleaded guilty to cocaine possession, and he served six months on house arrest.
If Smith has an addiction, here’s hoping he gets the help he needs to overcome it, and that he can emerge on the other side of his sentence as someone who can help young NFL players (and other young people regardless of their athletic abilities) avoid the same fate.