After 12 seasons in Denver and heading into a 13th as a part of the team in some capacity, Rod Smith can scarcely do more to impress the Broncos or their fans. Yet in spite of his numerous accomplishments, he remains as single-minded as ever — a trait he demonstrated when he was asked Thursday about the possibility of becoming the 15th player in NFL history with 800 receptions.
Smith is just three away from that milestone mark, and the man immediately ahead of him on the NFL’s all-time pass-catching tables, Isaac Bruce, will also see action Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome as he, like Smith, is a paragon of career consistency still going strong over 12 years after entering the league.
So if there was ever a day to commemorate all that Smith has meant to the Broncos and reflect upon where he stands and where he could still go in the coming years as he works his way into joining some of the sport’s most exalted names, it would be Sunday, when he is set to achieve another milestone while leading the team into a new year that carries the highest of expectations and aspirations from its players and coaches alike.
But Smith would prefer not to pause for history. Not now, anyway.
“Not worried about it,” he said when the subject was broached. “I’ll worry about it when my career is over. I’ll come find you and you can give me some stats and tell me what I did, but I’m not worried about it right now. I like wins.”
So perhaps the following numbers would appropriately tie one of the key indicators of Smith’s Denver success — touchdown receptions, of which he has more than anyone else in team annals — with Smith’s single-minded, insatiable desire for wins. To wit:
Since 1995, the Broncos have won 72.7 percent of their games in which Smith has caught at least one touchdown pass (record: 40-15). When Smith does not find the end zone, the percentage is 11.5 percent lower, at 61.2 (record: 74-47). The Broncos are also 7-2 (winning percentage: 77.7) in his career when he’s found the end zone twice.
But Smith may never have been as valuable as he was in 2005. He scored in seven games last year — six in the regular season and once in the playoffs. The Broncos won all of those games.
That’s the statistic he hopes to expand more than any other.
“I want the stats for the most wins as a receiver,” he said. “That’s what I want. That’s more important to me than anything.”