Denver, Colo. - Missouri Southern football Hall of Famer Rod Smith was inducted as the 23rd member into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame today in a ceremony at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The Ring of Fame was created by Broncos owner Pat Bowlen in 1984 to recognize former players and administrators that played significant roles in the franchise's history.
"I really can't start thanking everybody, but, definitely Mr. (Pat) Bowlen runs a first-class organization - everybody that has ever worked for the Denver Broncos, from the guys who cut the grass to the trainers and every single person. I want to thank everyone," Smith said at halftime of the Broncos' game with the Houston Texans today.
"It's special to be the 23rd person in the Ring of Honor," Smith said. "It means I did something right along the way, and I just appreciate this organization. I appreciate the community. I've always wanted to do one thing, and that's earn the respect of the organization and community and I think this is one of those moments that's awesome for me and my family."
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.
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.