The Modern-Era nominees—108 players and coaches—for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 were announced on Tuesday. Legends such as Randy Moss and Ray Lewis were two of the 11 first-year eligible players on the list, but a different first-year nominee is bound to raise some eyebrows.
At first glance, when you see Steve Smith under the wideouts listed, you would assume the former Panthers and Ravens pass-catcher. He is certainly a worthy candidate, but he retired after the 2016 season. In order to be eligible, the nominee needs to be at least five years removed from his last playing or coaching stint.
That means the player who was nominated was… the other Steve Smith. The Steve Smith who retired after playing six seasons in the NFL with the Giants, Eagles and Rams. The Steve Smith who had modest career totals of 2,641 yards and 12 touchdowns. That Steve Smith.
He did have a Pro Bowl appearance in 2009 and Super Bowl ring from 2008 to show for his efforts, but those credentials aren’t nearly enough for him to be enshrined in Canton, Ohio.
Nearly every other wide receiver nominee—there were 12 besides Smith—surpassed those marks in a two-year stretch over their careers. Even the “ice up, son” Steve Smith matched the other Smith’s 12 career touchdowns in just a single season back in 2005.
So it’s easy to assume that there was a potential mix-up in the process. Nonetheless, the other Steve Smith could plausibly be the most underqualified nominee in Pro Football Hall of Fame history.