Steve Smith is one of 108 modern era Hall of Fame nominees for 2018. That may sound like a large number of nominees, but in actuality, once you take out the coaches and contributors, it represents guys who were among the top 8 to 10 in their entire draft class.
To be a first-year-eligible nominee, the standards are even higher, as there is a backlog of deserving candidates. Only 10 players were nominated in their first season of eligibility.
WR Randy Moss
WR Donald Driver
WR Steve Smith
OL Matt Birk
OL Steve Hutchinson
OL Jeff Saturday
DL Kyle Vanden Bosch
LB Ray Lewis
LB Brian Urlacher
DB Ronde Barber
By my count, that list includes 7 guys who have are either locks or have a real good chance to get enshrined in Canton (Moss, Birk, Hutchinson, Saturday, Lewis, Urlacher, and Barber), and two others who had long careers but won’t get there. Driver is 44th in career receiving yards and 40th in catches. Vanden Bosch played 12 seasons and made 3 pro bowls.
And then there’s Steve Smith, who has a common name. But this isn’t the Steve Smith who would kick my ass for suggesting he is the worst nominee ever, was always ready with a quote, is 7th all-time in receiving yards, and retired after last season with the Baltimore Ravens. THAT Steve Smith isn’t eligible until 2022.
No, this is the Steve Smith who played at USC and was part of that “meh” game with Texas, was drafted by the Giants, and who made one pro bowl in 2009 before knee injuries wrecked his career. Well, at least he can now always say he was nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Maybe Adrian Peterson will finally get the recognition he deserves after this season. He did, after all, play for eight seasons in Chicago, far longer than Steve Smith lasted in the NFL. Anthony Gonzalez might have gotten on the ballot if he had just been smarter with shortening his name, and he’s been eligible for over a year now.