Good question. He had 60 receiving touchdowns, a record that stood for 27 years until Shannon Sharpe broke it in 2004. According to Fox Sports, Smith also had 421 catches for 5,496 yards – more receptions than three of the eight tight ends already in the Hall of Fame. He also has more receiving yards than three Hall of Famers at that position.
Could it be because he was gay? According to the Fox article, if it wasn’t due to direct discrimination, his sexual orientation still had an impact. After all, he played in era when homosexuality was much less accepted than it is now, and lived in constant fear of being discovered. As a result, he assiduously shied away from publicity, and perhaps was not on the minds of many of those on the Selection Committee. I’m not sure I buy that, but the amount of publicity a great player receives should not matter. His stats speak for themselves.
Click here to watch a trailer for NFL Network’s A Football Life – Jerry Smith. Be warned – it is sad. If a three-minute trailer is tear-jerking, just imagine watching it for an hour.