Steve Smith – Former Carolina Panthers WR
This year sees someone who was a cultural icon for the Carolina Panthers become officially eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Steve Smith is more than deserving after a sensational career that resulted in two All-Pro selections and five Pro Bowl appearances, so there is every likelihood this will come with a first-ballot induction despite the level of quality also waiting in the wings for their place in Canton.
Much like Julian Edelman, Smith overcame some significant obstacles to carve out a prominent NFL career. The wide receiver was largely written off coming out of Utah for being undersized before the Panthers eventually took a chance on him, and this is something the player himself did not forget in a hurry if his efforts on the field were any indication.
Smith was one of the toughest competitors we’ve ever seen on the field. He left everything out there on almost every play and although his trash talking was also elite, this was always backed up by exceptional production.
Although things ended sourly between Smith and the Panthers, he was inducted into the team’s Hall of Honor in recognition of his exceptional commitment to the organization over a 13-year period. Smith gained 12,197 receiving yards and 67 touchdowns from 838 receptions during his time in Carolina and although he gets first shot over Edelman, he would have first priority if they’d both retired at the same time.