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Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin See Steve Smith Sr. As Hall Of Famer


Thankfully, Steve Smith Sr. isn't hanging up his cleats this offseason, as he previously said he would.

But when Smith does stop playing football, once and for all, he should be ushered into football immortality.

That's the opinion of two excellent Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receivers Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin.

"No doubt I see him there," Irvin said Tuesday at the Pro Bowl. "He's an incredible player, he's been an incredible player for a long time. There's no doubt in my mind that, one day, he shall definitely wear a gold jacket."

"That's a guy I feel is going to be a Hall of Famer," Rice added. "I just love watching him whenever he puts that football uniform on."

Had it not been for a season-ending Achilles injury midway through the season, Smith would likely be in Hawaii right now along with the Pro Bowlers. At 36 years old, Smith was off to a torrid start with 46 catches for 670 yards and three touchdowns.

Smith already boasts a Hall of Fame resume. He's 11th in the NFL in career receiving yards. His 13,932 yards are second on the active list trailing just Andre Johnson (14,100). Johnson's production dipped last year and it was clear he's starting to slip.

Smith showed no signs of such a drop-off, other than saying it would be his final year. It's his fiery disposition that continues to carry Smith, and it is what has impressed his elders.

"We play a big-man game with a lot of big men on the football field," Irvin said with a laugh. "Here comes this little dude with so much anger pent up in him."

"I love his attitude," Rice said. "The way he plays the game. He's not a very big guy, but there is so much anger in him. You know he wants to make those plays to win football games."

Smith already has more receiving yards and touchdowns than Irvin (11,904 yards, 65 touchdowns). The one thing that Rice and Irvin both have has and Smith does not is a Super Bowl ring. Smith is coming back for another shot at that in 2016.

Smith was recently on the NFL Network with Irvin. The former Cowboy talked to him about his decision to return to football.

"I asked him, 'Can you really come back after making up your mind that you're going to retire?' Irving said. "Usually, when you say you're going to retire, your body shuts down. I guarantee you that he's the only guy that I will say never allows his body to shut down."

"If he wants to come back and he feels like he can still play, why not?" Rice chimed in. "Once you step away from the game and hang everything up, there's no returning. It will be great seeing him back on that football field."

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