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Michael Irvin’s Stand

Michael Irvin has taken a stand in favor of gay rights.   (ESPN:  Michael Irvin Champions Equality) This is certainly a courageous statement on his part.  A stand that is likely to be unpopular among many in football, especially among the fanbase in the Dallas area, and those who look for any reason to pile it on.

If he really believes what he is saying, I have a good place for him to start. 

Jerry Smith was the prototype of the modern offensive weapon type of Tight End.  At the time of his retirement, he was the most productive tight end in history, and was among the most productive of receivers ever.  He was a clutch 3rd down weapon,  had excellent hands, dangerous top end speed, and a frightening deep threat.  His production was easily worthy of quick induction into the Hall of Fame.  Most who followed the Redskins, in particular, in the late 60′s, and through the 70′s were certain that he’d be in shortly following Sonny, Bobby (Mitchell), and Charley (Taylor)

Jerry Smith

But… there was that one problem…

He was a good friend of David Kopay.  For those of you not familiar, Dave Kopay was the first openly gay NFL player.  You can connect the dots.  I’m among the thousands of fans of Jerry Smith who are convinced that, absent his probable homosexuality (he never came out, during his lifetime), Jerry Smith would likely have died knowing that he was a Hall of Fame Tight End.  Sadly, Jerry Smith died of AIDS on October 15, 1986.  We still await his induction into the hall.

Michael… look at Jerry’s career.  Look at his stats.  Watch the film.  Read the game accounts… there can be no doubt.  Jerry Smith should be in the Hall.  Mr Irvin… make your stand tangible.  Do the right thing.  Overcome the bigotry.  Use your standing to help get Jerry Smith into Canton, where you KNOW he deserves to be.  Thank you.

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2 Responses to “Michael Irvin’s Stand”

  1. An off-hand comment from Sonny: he had just started broadcasting Redskin games, and that season George Allen had brought in Jean Fugett from the Cowboys to take Smith’s job.

    The Redskins were railing as the third quarter closed, and one of the announcers asked, “Sonny, it looks bad for the Redskins right now. What would you do?”

    Without a blink of hesitation, Sonny answered, “Well, the first thing I’d do is get Jerry Smith into the game!”

    Or a lasting memory I have: The Redskins start the game a bit out-of-kilter. Cowboys drive for a TD. On the next play, Sonny collides with “up back” Charlie Harraway while turning to hand-off to Larry Brown. Cowboys recover, drive for a FG. Down 10 points in about ten minutes.

    Redskins offense comes back on the field. Sonny hitches his pants, of course, takes the snap from Len Hauss, and blim-bam snaps a 20-yard down-and-out to Jerry Smith on the left side. Hits Larry Brown crossing short on the next play and Brown, of course, carries the ball an extra ten yards. Next play, Sonny stands up and snaps the same down-and-out to Jerry on the right side. It was a tough win, but I knew the Redskins would win.

    Want some numbers? Consider the season when Taylor, Mitchell, and Smith went 1, 2, and 4 in receiving. Maybe that’s been done since, but I didn’t notice, and surely no trio of receivers did it back before the rules were changed to favor receivers and passers.

    Good call, Mike!

  2. If ever there was a guy who has been neglected or purposely dismissed due to prejudice by the Hall of Fame voters, it is Jerry Smith. I’ve followed the Skins since 1956 (at age 7) and was born and went to high school in Washington DC. I am the ultimate homer and root for everything Washington and this includes the Wizards and if you can still root for them with all their less than adept front office moves (for 25 years) then you are a homer.

    Back to Smith, admittedly he had the great Christian Adolph (SONNY) Jurgensen throwing to him. I’ve seen all the greats during and since ’56 and Sonny is the best passer that I ever saw. After Charley Taylor’s first 2 years when he was primarily a running back, we switched him to split end and or flanker and boy did we have a receiving corps.

    We had Bobby Mitchell, Charley Taylor and Jerry Smith.
    In the mid sixties, every Sunday, you could count on a few things, lots of points and footballs filling the air. We were the greatest show on turf but only on grass. In 1966, the Redskins beat the Giants 72-41, those 113 points still stands as the highest scoring game for both teams in NFL history. The second closest game was 106 total points in 2004. In 1967, before the AFL was considered on par with the NFL stats were clearly divided by leagues not conferences. That year we had the leading NFL receiver Charley Taylor 70 receptions, #2 Jerry Smith 67 receptions and #4 Bobby Mitchell 60 receptions. We had a lousy offensive line. The picture with Sonny’s helmet twisted with the ear hole of his helmet where the face mask should be is forever etched in my mind as he is nearly sacked while getting off a completion Our leading rusher was A.D. Whitfield who had 384 yards for a very respectable 4.2 per carry average. Jerry Allen contributed 262 yards and averaged 3.4 yards per carry.

    The ‘Skins were the first team that I saw that used the pass set up the run. That year, Sonny threw for 3747 yards and 31 touchdowns. Jerry Smith caught 12 of those touchdowns, which led both leagues in that category. One year Smith had a mere 21 receptions, of which, 7 were touchdowns. When the ‘Skins were near the end zone it was abundantly clear that if they wanted 6 then all they had to do was get it within Smith’s arm’s reach and the points were on the board.

    Jerry Smith was an integral part of the best passing team in football. In ‘67 Namath passed for more yards 4007 but had 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions while Sonny had 31 TD’s and 16 interceptions – a passer rating some 15 points higher than Namath). Jerry Smith is so overlooked that it a travesty of justice. I just hope not forgotten. He couldn’t run over people like John Mackey, he wasn’t macho like like Mike Ditka-head but boy could he catch a football! He had the best hands that I ever saw – maybe Belitnikoff was on par- but Smith needed no stickum. If Smith touched the ball there was about a 95% chance he was going to get it. Some day the NFL HOF voters will realize that Smith should have been enshrined shortly after retirement. There were rumors circulating as Smith’s career was winding down that he was gay. Dave Kopay later spilled the beans and may feel as if he did someone a favor (himself) by coming out of the closet but what he did was completely self-serving. The news that Smith died if AIDS was already made it pretty evident that he was an IV drug user or gay. The former seemed very unlikely but who knows. If Kopay felt the need to out him self – then great, go ahead and do so, so you can cry about coaching jobs being rescinded or whatever you wish to say about yourself but why drag Smith down? He claims that Smith was his lover, what kind of lover says things that are obviously detrimental about him particularly after his death? This is an act of cowardice and betrayal that is unconscionsciable; particularly after experiencing the negativity it brought to his life.

    How dare you (Kopay) drag one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the game down to your barely-credible level ! Kopay was little more than a borderline player while Smith perhaps the best receiving tight end of all time. The cards are stacked against Jerry Smith and getting into Canton and “friends” Kopay make it just another hurdle that a dead man must leap over. I feel certain that if the HOF voters can get over their homophobia and just look at on field accomplishments then Jerry Smith will get what he has deserved for decades – a bust in Canton.

    If ever there was a guy who has been neglected or purposely dismissed due to prejudice by the Hall of Fame voters, it is Jerry Smith. I’ve followed the Skins since 1956 (at age 7) and was born and went to high school in Washington DC. I am the ultimate homer and root for everything Washington and this includes the Wizards and if you can still root for them with all their less than adept front office moves (for 25 years) then you are a homer.

    Back to Smith, admittedly he had the great Christian Adolph (SONNY) Jurgensen throwing to him. I’ve seen all the greats during and since ’56 and Sonny is the best passer that I ever saw. After Charley Taylor’s first 2 years when he was primarily a running back, we switched him to split end and or flanker and boy did we have a receiving corps.

    We had Bobby Mitchell, Charley Taylor and Jerry Smith.
    In the mid sixties, every Sunday, you could count on a few things, lots of points and footballs filling the air. We were the greatest show on turf but only on grass. In 1966, the Redskins beat the Giants 72-41, those 113 points still stands as the highest scoring game for both teams in NFL history. The second closest game was 106 total points in 2004. In 1967, before the AFL was considered on par with the NFL stats were clearly divided by leagues not conferences. That year we had the leading NFL receiver Charley Taylor 70 receptions, #2 Jerry Smith 67 receptions and #4 Bobby Mitchell 60 receptions. We had a lousy offensive line. The picture with Sonny’s helmet twisted with the ear hole of his helmet where the face mask should be is forever etched in my mind as he is nearly sacked while getting off a completion Our leading rusher was A.D. Whitfield who had 384 yards for a very respectable 4.2 per carry average. Jerry Allen contributed 262 yards and averaged 3.4 yards per carry.

    The ‘Skins were the first team that I saw that used the pass set up the run. That year, Sonny threw for 3747 yards and 31 touchdowns. Jerry Smith caught 12 of those touchdowns, which led both leagues in that category. One year Smith had a mere 21 receptions, of which, 7 were touchdowns. When the ‘Skins were near the end zone it was abundantly clear that if they wanted 6 then all they had to do was get it within Smith’s arm’s reach and the points were on the board.

    Jerry Smith was an integral part of the best passing team in football. In ‘67 Namath passed for more yards 4007 but had 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions while Sonny had 31 TD’s and 16 interceptions – a passer rating some 15 points higher than Namath). Jerry Smith is so overlooked that it a travesty of justice. I just hope not forgotten. He couldn’t run over people like John Mackey, he wasn’t macho like like Mike Ditka-head but boy could he catch a football! He had the best hands that I ever saw – maybe Belitnikoff was on par- but Smith needed no stickum. If Smith touched the ball there was about a 95% chance he was going to get it. Some day the NFL HOF voters will realize that Smith should have been enshrined shortly after retirement. There were rumors circulating as Smith’s career was winding down that he was gay. Dave Kopay later spilled the beans and may feel as if he did someone a favor (himself) by coming out of the closet but what he did was completely self-serving. The news that Smith died if AIDS was already made it pretty evident that he was an IV drug user or gay. The former seemed very unlikely but who knows. If Kopay felt the need to out him self – then great, go ahead and do so, so you can cry about coaching jobs being rescinded or whatever you wish to say about yourself but why drag Smith down? He claims that Smith was his lover, what kind of lover says things that are obviously detrimental about him particularly after his death? This is an act of cowardice and betrayal that is unconscionsciable; particularly after experiencing the negativity it brought to his life.

    How dare you (Kopay) drag one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the game down to your barely-credible level ! Kopay was little more than a borderline player while Smith perhaps the best receiving tight end of all time. The cards are stacked against Jerry Smith and getting into Canton and “friends” Kopay make it just another hurdle that a dead man must leap over. I feel certain that if the HOF voters can get over their homophobia and just look at on field accomplishments then Jerry Smith will get what he has deserved for decades – a bust in Canton.


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