Wednesday, August 5, 2009


On Saturday, Bruce Smith (Virginia Tech), 46, will headline the class enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He'll be joined by defensive back Rod Woodson; guard Randall McDaniel; Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson; wide receiver Bob Hayes, who died in 2002; and fellow pass rusher Derrick Thomas, who died in 2000.

"There have been some sleepless nights because of the anticipation," says Smith, who played 15 of his 19 NFL seasons as a defensive end for the Bills. "This will forever change my life."

Besides his record 200 career sacks, Smith holds the NFL mark for seasons with 10-plus sacks (13). A two-time NFL defensive player of the year (1990, 1996), he was named to 11 Pro Bowls.

"The argument can be made that he was the greatest ever at his position," former Bills coach Marv Levy says. "To do what he did, (primarily) in a 3-4, is unfathomable to me. You can look at his sacks, but … the man made an incredible amount of tackles. Bruce was just as good against the run."

Since retiring after the 2003 season, concluding four campaigns with the Washington Redskins, Smith has made a mark in real estate, engaged in several high-profile developments. And he's remained active with community-service projects.

Unfortunately, Smith has other issues to deal with. He's in the process of appealing a July 9 DUI conviction and has an Aug. 27 court date.

But the DUI conviction — which if upheld will bring a 90-day suspended sentence, $440 in fines and a one-year driver's license suspension — has already cost Smith some well deserved recognition when Virginia Beach officials scrapped plans for a public celebration in the city in which he resides and where the DUI arrest occurred.

Smith beat two previous DUI charges (a 1997 case was dismissed, and he was acquitted in 2003), but amid the countdown to be immortalized as football royalty, he again has drawn attention for a drunken-driving case.

Damn it, Bruce, give up those keys…

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