Smith set to be inducted into Broncos Ring of Fame

Associated Press Modified: September 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm •  Published: September 20, 2012
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Rod Smith hangs on to a grudge almost as well as a pass.

Even 18 years later, the former Denver Broncos wide receiver still remains irate over not being drafted.

The Broncos took a chance on the unheralded wideout from Missouri Southern and he blossomed into the team's all-time leader in virtually every receiving category.

Always a fan favorite, Smith will hear the roar of the crowd again Sunday when he's inducted into the Ring of Fame at halftime against the Houston Texans.

Throughout his career, Smith used his resentment over not being picked to give him an edge and an attitude. He hardly ever took a day off — even in the offseason — and always believed that each week just might be his last in the league.

"I would sneak up on my locker and just pray that my name was still there and say, 'OK, I've got one more day,'" Smith said Thursday. "I would think that if we lose that day, they're looking to move me around. That's the way I believe. That's what kept me with my head down working.

"They (other players) worry about contract-to-contract or year-to-year or game-to-game. No, mine was second-to-second. It worked for me."

Smith may have been overlooked coming out of college, but he wasn't once he stepped onto the field. He always tangled with the opposition's top cover guy. That started early, too. He spent his first season on the practice squad in 1994 and then was thrown into the action.

His first catch was on Sept. 17, 1995, when he hauled in a 43-yard pass from John Elway as time expired to lift the Broncos to a 38-31 victory over Washington.

"I don't know too many people whose first catch has probably been that dramatic," said Smith, who finished his career as the team leader in receptions (849), yards receiving (11,389) and TD catches (68).

Even more than his receptions, Smith set a standard that even the Broncos receivers of today are striving to emulate. Around the complex, his work ethic will always be revered.

"I didn't squander a day," Smith said. "That's the mentality you have to have at the beginning. I had that mentality when I was broke. I had that mentality when I was hungry. I had that mentality in college.



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