The lack of recognition bugs him. When you put up numbers like Smith's, it's only natural to wonder why your name doesn't roll off the tongues of analysts when they talk about the best receivers. Recently, while discussing the $75 million deal that the Vikings gave wideout Randy Moss, Smith said, "I'm happy for him, but sometimes I feel like, What more could I have done in the last few years?"
After losing 25 pounds during the offseason because of abdominal surgery, Smith spent all of training camp getting in game condition. He's back to his playing weight of 205 pounds, and in a 28-24 loss to the Titans on Sunday he had seven catches for 120 yards. "We're a little shocked that he's even with us," says quarterback Mark Brunell.
At 6' 1", Smith is tall enough and strong enough to outjump smaller cornerbacks. At 32, he's still quick enough to create enough space for Brunell to zing quick completions to him and sneaky-fast enough to get deep. "He keeps getting better," says coach Tom Coughlin.
On a torrid July day at training camp, Smith put into perspective what this season would mean for his career. "Coming back from this injury," he said, "will define who Jimmy Smith is." The definition is clear. He's one of the greats in a golden age of receivers.
My Two Cents
Seifert Drops The Ball
1. Here's how not to revive a snuggling franchise. Check out the three-year career of Panthers coach George Seifert (16-24 since his return), who in 1999 dealt third-and fourth-round draft picks to the Broncos for since-departed quarterback Jeff Lewis and who got no sacks in 2000 from damaged-goods free-agent defensive end Chuck Smith after paying him a $4.5 million signing bonus. Smith is out of football. As for Seifert's prowess as a builder of defenses, Carolina has ranked 26th, 27th and, this year, 30th in the league in total defense.
2. There is not a more impressive young defensive player in the game than Browns defensive end Courtney Brown, who made his 2001 debut on Sunday in Chicago with three sacks and a 25-yard fumble return for a touchdown. He's the second coming of Reggie White—with speed.