JACKSONVILLE – This was the right time.
That's how Jimmy Smith saw the announcement Tuesday that he will be the next person inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars.
Smith, who played for the Jaguars from 1995-2005 and who remains the team's all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, will be inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars on December 11, 2016. That's the day of the team's home game against the Minnesota Vikings.
"I'm definitely proud and emotional right now," Smith said Tuesday morning.
Smith, who caught 862 passes for 12,287 yards and 69 touchdowns in 13 NFL seasons, said he received the news of his induction from Owner Shad Khan Saturday.
"It was a 217 area code," Smith said. "I started not to pick up the phone because I usually don't answer numbers I don't know. It was Shad Khan, and I knew right then. My heart started beating fast and I couldn't catch my breath. He said, 'Jimmy, this is Shad Khan with the Jacksonville Jaguars …"
Smith said Khan thanked him for his time with the Jaguars and his contributions to the team since. He said the franchise was proud of him.
"I really appreciate him for making the decision to induct me in the Pride," Smith said.
Smith, who had nine 1,000-yard receiving seasons and who made five Pro Bowls from 1997-2001, will become the sixth person inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars along with Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor, Mark Brunell and former Owners Wayne and Delores Weaver.
Smith also thanked Jaguars fans.
"I'm very thankful to Jag Nation for supporting me all these years – when I was scoring touchdowns and during my off-field issues," he said.
Smith, who retired following the 2005 season, was arrested on drug charges in 2009 and served prison time in 2013.
"I'm just happy that God has allowed me to be resilient and persevere and show that you can turn your life around and still be on top," Smith said.
Smith thanked Khan and the Weavers, as well as former Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin and Jaguars teammates, for helping him attain the honor. He also said he wants to see his former wide receiver mate, Keenan McCardell, be the next player inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars.
"That's a definite yes," Smith said. "I remember Mark [Brunell] saying it would be good both of us going in together, but if you think about it – with what each one of us has done – I think myself and Keenan feel like this is a time we need our own individual stage. Yes, we were considered one of the best tandems in the NFL – Thunder and Lightning – but we're both individuals. It took teamwork, but we both need our days in the sun."
Smith said he also hopes Coughlin will be inducted.
"Those are two guys who really deserve to be in there," Smith said of Coughlin and McCardell. "They were very instrumental in my success for me being up there."
Smith, a second-round selection by Dallas in the 1992 NFL Draft, played seven games for Dallas that season. He joined the Jaguars on February 28, 1995, months before their 1995 expansion season. He still owns 11 franchise records, including those for career receptions, career yards, career touchdown receptions, single-season yardage (1,636, 1999) and single-season receptions (116, 1999).
Smith said while he might have been inducted into the Pride sooner had it not been for his off-field issues, "God has a plan for us all."
"Lately, it seems since I turned my life over to God, I've been getting these gifts from God – and this is one of them," he said. "I think the timing is perfect because had I not gone through some of the off-the-field issues I wouldn't be the person I am today.
"I've matured and learned from my mistakes and am able to help other guys who have been struggling with the same issues that I've struggled with in my life. This could be an inspiration to someone else and help them get over their problems. Everybody has issues and problems; it's how do you deal with those problems and how do you come out of it.
"The work is not over for me by any means, but I'm definitely grateful for today, grateful for the Jaguars, grateful to God and grateful for my family."
Smith said he also understood his responsibility as a member of the Pride of the Jaguars, something that was a topic when he spoke to Taylor Tuesday morning.
"Me and Fred have a relationship that's second to none," Smith said. "He's my brother; I love him. He was talking to me about the importance of having your name in that stadium and the responsibility that's going to come with it. It's being a good role model and being someone who can help someone else, so it means a lot to me."