Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Perfect Day Arrives for Perfect Tight End

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Perfect Day Arrives for Perfect Tight End

Article excerpt

The guest list includes Jackie Smith's wife and four children; granddaughter Olivia, his mother, Hazel, from Sullivan, his sister, Denise, from Waterloo, Ill. And cousin Arlen is up from Columbia, Miss., Smith's birthplace.

So are friends from college and several former football Cardinals.

"It's going to be a wild crew, and a great crew," Smith said earlier this week.

Then he paused. Mulled over that guest list.

"You know what? I think these are the same guys that might come to my funeral," he added with a laugh.

Probably so. At least he gets to thank them beforehand - for their friendship, their love, their support.

"That's right," Smith said. "I'm going to have a great time."

Today's the day. The practically perfect tight end gets enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Class of '94 also includes running back Tony Dorsett and defensive tackle Randy White of Dallas; cornerback Jimmy Johnson of San Francisco; running back Leroy Kelly of Cleveland; and coach Bud Grant of Minnesota.

Ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. St. Louis time (ESPN2).

Smith left Thursday morning for Canton after a whirlwind last few days in St. Louis.

"It's been steadily picking up to what you call your basic crescendo," Smith said earlier this week.

Wednesday was particularly frenetic. Smith said he was interviewed by eight radio stations that day - plus a flotilla of television and print outlets.

The congenial Smith wasn't always up to the task.

"They ask you questions like what pass do you remember the most? What game do you remember the most? What was your favorite catch and your favorite game?" Smith said. "I don't think about that kind of stuff. . . . I don't know a lot of players that do."

The facts speak for themselves. Now 54, Smith caught 480 passes for 7,918 yards and scored 43 touchdowns in 16 seasons - all but one with the Big Red. …

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