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Bruce Bernard Smith (born June 18, 1963 in ) is a former American football defensive end for the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. He was a part of the Buffalo Bills when they won the AFC championship and went to the Super Bowl four years in a row. He currently holds the record for most career sacks with 200 after surpassing Reggie White's record during the season. On January 31, 2009, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker in his first year of eligibility. He was officially inducted in Canton, Ohiomarker on August 8, 2009.

Personal life

Smith is a native of Norfolk, Virginia, where he graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. He is a Baptist and is currently a member of Queen Street Baptist Church in Norfolk. He is married to his wife of nineteen years, Carmen, and has a teenage son named Alston.

College career

Known as "The Sack Man" of Virginia Tech football, Smith finished his college career in 1984 as the most honored player in Hokie history at the time. As a Tech player, he had a career total of 71 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for losses totaling 504 yards. He had 46 career quarterback sacks, including 22 during his junior season in 1983 when he was named First-team All-America by the AFCA (Coaches) and Newspaper Enterprise Association. In 1984, Smith won the Outland Trophy as America's top lineman and was a consensus All-American.

Pro football career

Buffalo Bills

After attending Virginia Techmarker, Smith was drafted by the Buffalo Bills as the number one draft pick overall in the 1985 NFL Draft. He became known as a sack specialist, with 15 in 1986 and a personal season-best 19 in 1990. By 1989, he had already become the Bills' all-time sack leader when he reached his 52nd sack. In 1990, his defensive performance helped bring the Bills to Super Bowl XXV, but they eventually lost to the Bill Parcells-led New York Giants. Still, Smith had an impressive performance in the game. He sacked Jeff Hostetler in the end zone for a safety in the second quarter, and later forced New York to turn the ball over on downs by tackling running back Ottis Anderson for a two-yard loss on a fourth down conversion attempt.

At the height of his career, Smith was known as one of the NFL's most fearsome defensive players. His sack record attests to this, though his public demeanor suggested he was quite mild-mannered off the field.

In 1991, Smith was hampered by knee problems and sat out most of the season. In 1992 he was again a First-team All-Pro (NEA) and was voted to the Pro Bowl while recording a team-leading 14 sacks.

During these years, Smith continued to be named to the Pro Bowl every season from 1987 to 1998 (except for his injury-laden 1991 season). In 1987, he was named the Pro Bowl MVP. Smith was twice named the AP's NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1990, 1996), twice named the NEA Defensive Player of the Year (1990, 1993) and four times named UPI's AFC Defensive Player of the Year (1987, 1988, 1990, 1996).

By 1996, Smith was still putting up prolific numbers, with 90 tackle and 14 sacks. By 1997, Smith had 65 tackles and 14 sacks and by 1998, although he was getting older he still had a respectable 50 tackles and ten sacks plus 100 others.

Washington Redskins

After the 1999 season, Smith signed with the Washington Redskins as a free agent. In his first season, he posted 58 tackles and ten sacks, although he was now playing in mostly in passing situations. He pressed onward in pursuit of Reggie White's all-time sacks record (198, achieved in 15 seasons), which he passed in the thirteenth game of his 19th season in 2003. Smith finished his career with 200 career sacks.

Smith had hinted in interviews that 2003 would be his final season. However, he never completely ruled out continuing to play. But on February 24, 2004, the Redskins released Smith, saving $6.5 million in salary cap space.

Honors

In his 19 NFL seasons, Smith played in 279 games, amassing 200 sacks, two interceptions, 46 forced fumbles, and 15 fumble recoveries, which he returned for 33 yards and a touchdown. Of his 19 seasons in the NFL, 14 of them were seasons where he had at least ten sacks, a testament to his consistency year in and year out. He was also named All-Pro nine times.

In 1999, Smith was ranked number 58 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. In 2005, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. In 2006, Smith was voted into the College Football Hall of Famemarker.

On August 13, 2008, he was part of the inaugural class to be inducted into the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame, honoring athletes, coaches and administrators who made contributions to sports in Southeastern Virginia. Smith was inducted onto the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame during halftime of the Bills' September 21, 2008 game against the Oakland Raiders.

On January 31, 2009, Smith was announced as an inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker. Smith's former Bills Defensive Coordinator, Ted Cottrell will be his "presenter". He was inducted Saturday, August 8, 2009 along with 5 other candidates, one of whom was his former boss & friend, Buffalo Bills owner & founder, Ralph Wilson, Jr..

Current life

Smith now lives in Virginia Beach, Virginiamarker. He works as a large-scale hotel designer, undertaking many projects with Armada Hoffler. Most recently he returned to Blacksburg where he purchased the Red Lion Inn and is currently redeveloping the site with a $50 million student-oriented apartment, hotel and restaurant complex.

Legal Trouble

Smith was arrested on May 15, 2009 and convicted on July 9, 2009 with driving under the influence, speeding, and refusing to take an alcohol breath test. Smith has two previous DUI arrests, but has never been convicted.

References

  1. Class of 2009 announced, Official Site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/enshrinement/story.jsp?story_id=3095. Retrieved February 1, 2009.


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