JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Jaguars' 25-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings – with an eye on former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith's halftime induction into the Pride of the Jaguars
SMITH INDUCTED INTO PRIDE
The emotions overcame Jimmy Smith Sunday.
That's not unexpected considering the magnitude of the day, but the five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver wanted something known following his induction into the Pride of the Jaguars.
This moment mattered to Smith as much or more than any other football moment could matter.
Smith, one of the NFL's top wide receivers during a Jaguars career that spanned 1995-2005, has been on the preliminary list for the Hall of Fame six years. But he said the Jaguars – and everything around the Jaguars – means more to him than league-wide honors.
And that made Sunday special.
"This city, the owner Shad Khan, these fans, my teammates all recognize what I've done in my career," Smith said shortly after his induction into the Pride at halftime Sunday. "I think it starts here, before we go to the Hall of Fame. So that's why this is even more important than a Hall of Fame nomination or anything like that."
Smith became the sixth person inducted into the Pride, joining offensive tackle Tony Boselli, quarterback Mark Brunell, owners Wayne and Delores Weaver and running back Fred Taylor. Boselli, Brunell and Taylor played together from 1998-2001, and that trio was key to the team's back-to-back AFC Central titles in 1998 and their run to the 1999 AFC Championship Game.
"To see those guys get inducted and then to see me come along later, it just makes it that much more special," Smith said.
Smith played on four Jaguars postseason teams and also played in the 1996 AFC Championship Game. His touchdown receptions were key moment in playoff victories that postseason at Buffalo and Denver, which remain two of the biggest victories in franchise history.
Smith retired following the 2005 season having caught 862 passes for 12,287 yards and 67 touchdowns. He had more than 1,000 yards receiving every season but one from 1996-2005. The lone exception was 2003 when he had 805 yards receiving while playing just 12 games. He finished his career as the NFL's seventh-leading receiver in receptions and 11th all-time in yards.
"The type of player I was – I was never thinking about being in the Pride or making the Hall of Fame or anything," Smith said. "I just wanted to come to work and play football. It's a privilege for us to play in the NFL. It was a blessing for me and I wanted to respect the game. I played it with everything that I had."
Smith also thanked his wide receiver mate from 1996-2001, Keenan McCardell. The pair was nicknamed Thunder and Lightning and rivaled any wide receiver duo in the NFL during their six seasons together.
"I wanted to end that thing with thanking my best friend Keenan, and I didn't get a chance to," Smith said of his emotional halftime speech to the crowd. "So it's kind of bittersweet that I didn't get a chance to thank Keenan publicly. That's why I'm doing it now, so everyone can see how great and how important Keenan was to my success."
TOUGH DAY FOR ROBINSON
Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson caught just on pass for 17 yards Sunday. The game came after he and quarterback Blake Bortles met with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett early in the week in an effort to get on the same page. Robinson had caught three passes for 31 yards in a loss to Denver last week despite being targeted 10 times. He was targeted three times Sunday. "It is what it is," Robinson said. "We have other guys on this team that are going to make plays. Each and every game, we all come in here and try to do our part to make plays when our number is called. In the receiver room we've got a lot of explosive players and I think we got production. Marqise Lee had a hell of a game today. That's what it's about. It's not about me." Lee caught five passes for 113 yards Sunday, his second 100-yard game of the season.
"I know we can (win); we just have to do things to get ourselves out of it. It's not something that will just happen for us. Someway we have to just pull ourselves out of this spiral."
--Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones
"We're doing good as a defense but we're not doing enough. I think we have to start nitpicking and really thinking about things as far as just looking at ourselves just more in the mirror. I know we're playing great football but to be great you have to be really critical of your work and I think we need to be a little more critical, and then we'll start winning games – you know, where the defense will stop the team from scoring."
*--Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson