Smith, Rice inducted into Hall of Fame
Rice and Smith were both elected to the shrine in their first year of eligibility and were excited to enter the sporting shrine together while topping two of the NFL’s most cherished lists.
Both players are three-time Super Bowl champions, and in their careers gave teams plenty of chances to regret that they bypassed them in the NFL Draft. Rice was the 16th selection in the 1985 draft and Smith was taken 17th in 1990.
“I played for 20 years and I still believe in my heart I could play today,” said Rice.
Rice, whose fame came with the San Francisco 49ers, built a record streak of 274 consecutive games with at least one catch, 11 straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, 22 touchdown catches in 12 games of the strike-shortened 1987 season and final totals of 1,549 receptions for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns.
“This is finally it. There are no more routes to run, no more touchdowns to score, no more records to set,” Rice said. “Let me stand here and catch my breath.”
Rice said a fear of failure pushed his feats. “The fear of failure is the engine that has driven me my entire life,” Rice said. “The reason they never caught me from behind is because I ran scared. The doubts, the struggles, is who I am.”
Smith, who made his name in 13 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, rushed for 18,355 yards and 164 touchdowns, and also had a career-record 4,409 carries. “Most people only dream. I not only had my childhood dream, I did everything I could to fulfill it,” Smith said.
Also inducted were Detroit Lions defensive back Dick LeBeau, Washington guard Russ Grimm, New Orleans linebacker Rickey Jackson, Minnesota defensive tackle John Randle and Denver running back Floyd Little.