Sports Outside the Beltway

Jimmy Smith Retires

Jimmy Smith, who became one of the NFL’s star receivers after some early character issues, is retiring.

Jimmy Smith, one of the most prolific receivers in NFL history, has decided to retire. Smith, a five-time Pro Bowl selection who overcame several health problems and a drug addiction during his 13 seasons, scheduled a news conference Thursday with the Jacksonville Jaguars to announce the decision. His retirement was first reported by

The 37-year-old receiver led the Jags with 70 catches for 1,023 yards and six touchdowns last season. He ranks seventh in NFL history with 862 receptions and 11th in receiving yards. He has more receptions than every receiver in the Hall of Fame, and only Marvin Harrison has more catches and yards receiving than Smith since 1996.

Smith contemplated retirement during the offseason, but Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio asked him to take his time and be sure he was making the right choice. His announcement came a day before the team opened a three-day minicamp.

Smith’s longevity was surprising – even to him – especially considering what he overcame. In 2001, he had three operations to remove scar tissue from his abdomen. Some questioned whether he would play again, but he caught 112 passes for 1,373 yards – despite being arrested in November that year for suspicion of drunken driving. Tests later revealed he had cocaine in his system. He vehemently denied using the drug. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2003 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He then publicly acknowledged an addiction and spent several weeks in rehab.

He had other issues early in his career, too. The third receiver selected in the 1992 draft behind Desmond Howard and Carl Pickens, Smith broke his leg and missed most of his rookie season. In 1993, he needed an emergency appendectomy and suffered through infection and stomach problems. He missed the entire year. He didn’t play in 1994, either, after getting cut by Dallas and Philadelphia.

As a Cowboys fan, it still grates on me that he didn’t get his act together while he was still on our roster. The team might have won another Super Bowl or two if it had a receiver of his caliber alongside Michael Irvin.

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