Bruce Smith is considered one of the NFL’s best defensive ends of all-time. For all the players who have strutted their stuff, to be called the best to ever do it in your position, that has to sit nicely.
Smith, born in Norfolk, Virginia, was taken with the first overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. It did take a little while for Smith to find his feet in the league, but once he did, he started dominating.
Smith and his rookie season
In his first year in the NFL, like most players, it takes time to adjust to the rigors of the game. Rookies have to learn their place and work out exactly what to do on certain plays. In total, the defensive end finished with 6.5 sacks in 16 games, 13 of which he started. Not too bad, right? Well, that sack total was the lowest he would hit for the next five years.
Smith puts NFL on notice
After his rookie season, the defensive end exploded. He totaled 15 sacks from his 16 games in 1986. He would then register double-digit sacks for the next five seasons, with his efforts in 1990, the peak seasons.
Smith registered 19 sacks, four forced fumbles, and 101 total tackles as he finished his sixth year in the NFL. By then, Smith was a four-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro and was the NFL’s AP Defensive Player of the Year. All of that, and he was just 27 years old.
Smith returns with a vengeance in 1992
The following season, knee issues plagued him as he could only get on the field for five games. But you want to talk about returning with a vengeance? In simple terms, Smith came back like no other player has.
At 29 the defensive end took all before him as he scared just about every offensive player in the league. He registered back-to-back 14 sack seasons as he was once again nominated to the Pro Bowl and an All-Pro selection in those two seasons.
What made the defensive end so tough and virtually impossible to stop was the combination of his size and speed. Smith was often too fast for offensive linemen, and far too strong for running backs or tight ends who tried to block him.
Aside from his knee issues in 1991, Smith was known for his ability to consistently be available on gameday. His durability was something not many could match. This led to him simply being healthy essentially all the time and his numbers are scary when you look at them.
Smith had an incredible career
He played right up until he was 40 for 15 seasons with the Buffalo Bills that saw the team go to four straight Super Bowls. All of which were lost, unfortunately.
The defensive end holds several NFL records too. The most notable being the league’s all-time sack leader with an incredible 200 sacks to his name. He also holds the record for the most 10+ sack seasons in the league with 13. Think about that, 10 or more sacks in 13 seasons. He played 19 years in the league and 13 times he registered 10 or more sacks. Think about it for a minute, that is seriously impressive.
Smith played 15 years with the Bills, known as the most dominant defensive end of his time. He then played for Washington for four years before retiring.
Looking at his list of accomplishments, it is something all players dream of having. In total, Smith was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, a 11-time Pro Bowler and an eight-time All-Pro. The Hall of Famer was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade teams of the 1980s and 1990’s along with being part of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time team. He was also the co-leader in forced fumbles in 1994 and 1996. Along with being a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.
He retired as one of the greatest to ever do it at his position, the only thing missing from his incredible resume is a Super Bowl.
All stats are provided by Pro Football Reference and Britannica.com. Similarly, reference any other source also from this content.