May 18, 2012

Rod Smith elected to Denver Broncos Ring of Honor

Joplin, Mo. -- Missouri Southern Hall of Famer Rod Smith has been elected to the Denver Broncos Ring of Honor, the team announced Thursday.

On Thursday, Owner/CEO Pat Bowlen announced that Smith was elected the 23rd member of the illustrious group.

"Players like Rod don't come through your door very often, but he came through ours every day with a purpose and hunger to be great," Bowlen said in a statement. "Rod's production and numbers -- as outstanding as they were -- paled in comparison to his commitment to winning and the respect he commanded from each and every one of his teammates throughout his career. Emerging from an undrafted player to one of the best to ever play his position, Rod has truly earned his place among the greatest Broncos of all time.

"I am thankful for everything Rod contributed to this franchise during his time with the Broncos, and I congratulate him on his well-deserved election to the Ring of Fame."

The induction ceremony will take place on Sunday, Sept. 23, at halftime of the Broncos' home game against the Houston Texans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The Ring of Fame was created by Bowlen in 1984 to recognize former players and administrators that played significant roles in the franchise's history.

Smith is the first former Bronco elected to the group since tight end Shannon Sharpe joined in 2009. He's the third receiver in the Ring of Fame, joining Lionel Taylor and Haven Moses.

Smith set MIAA records in career receiving yards (3,122) and touchdowns (35) during his time at Southern. He also still holds school records for catches in a game (13), receiving yards in a game (254), receiving yards in a season (1,439), highest average gain per reception in a season (24.0), touchdown receptions in a season (15) and longest pass reception (98 yards). He finished his career with 158 receptions for 3,122 yards and 34 touchdowns, which is now third all-time in Division II. Smith helped the Lions to their last MIAA title and NCAA post season appearance when the team went 9-1-1 in 1993. That season, he was named first-team All-America by the Associated Press, Kodak, Football Gazette and NCAA Division II sports information directors. In 1993, Smith caught 63 passes for 986 yards and 13 touchdowns, and was a finalist for the Harlon Hill Award.

Smith entered the NFL with the Denver Broncos as a college free agent on May 3, 1994. He holds Broncos' franchise records for career receptions (849), receiving yards (11,389), touchdown catches (68) and overall touchdowns (71). Smith retired ranking 11th in career receptions, 17th in career receiving yards, and tied for 30th in career receiving touchdowns. In 2005, he became one of 25 players in NFL history to reach 10,000 career yards, a feat he accomplished on Monday Night Football vs. Kansas City (9/26/05). Smith is the first player from the MIAA to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and the first to play for two Super Bowl winning teams (Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII).

He leads all undrafted players in NFL history in every major career receiving category. He posted eight career 1,000 yard seasons, including six straight from 1997-2002. He is also one of just six players to have back-to-back seasons with 100 receptions. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2000, 2001, and 2004.

Smith was inducted into the Missouri Southern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003 and is the only football player in Southern history to have his number (9) retired. He was inducted into the Arkansas and Missouri Sports Halls of Fame in 2009 and into the D-2 and College Football Halls of Fame in 2010. He was also recently inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, as well. He retired from professional football before the start of the 2008 season.

Smith was named Missouri Southern's Outstanding Graduate in 1994 after completing his collegiate studies with three degrees in economics and finance, general business, as well as marketing and management.