Bruce Smith (defensive end)

Bruce Bernard Smith (born June 18, 1963) is a former American football defensive end for the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. He was a member of the Buffalo Bills teams that played in four consecutive Super Bowls as AFC champions. The holder of the NFL career record for quarterback sacks with 200, Smith was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009, his first year of eligibility.[1] Smith was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Bruce Smith
refer to caption
Smith at the 2009 Pro Bowl
No. 78
Position:Defensive end
Personal information
Born:June 18, 1963 (age 55)
Norfolk, Virginia
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:280 lb (127 kg)
Career information
High school:Booker T. Washington
(Norfolk, Virginia)
College:Virginia Tech
NFL Draft:1985 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Forced fumbles:43
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

High school and college careers

Smith is a native of Norfolk, Virginia, where he graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. Following an all-state high school career, Smith accepted an athletic scholarship to Virginia Tech. Known as "The Sack Man" at Virginia Tech, Smith finished his college career in 1984 as the most honored player in Hokie history. Foreshadowing his future success in pursuing quarterbacks in the NFL, he had a career total of 71 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, for losses totaling 504 yards. Smith had 46 career sacks, including 22 during a junior season in 1983 that saw him named First-team All-America by the AFCA (Coaches) and Newspaper Enterprise Association. In 1984, Smith capped off his tenure in Blacksburg with the Outland Trophy, given to the nation's top lineman, and a consensus selection to the All-America Team. His accomplishments at Virginia Tech earned him a spot in the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

Professional football career

Buffalo Bills

Following this stellar collegiate career, Smith was drafted by the Buffalo Bills with the first pick of the 1985 NFL Draft. (Concurrently he was also selected by the Baltimore Stars in the 1985 USFL Territorial Draft but spurned the United States Football League advances and decided to play in the NFL instead, even as the Stars were a championship caliber team and the Bills were on the brink of collapse.) After a rookie season in which his poor training habits limited his effectiveness, inspiration from teammate Darryl Talley and finding love with a college counselor whom he eventually married inspired him to improve his game.[2] He quickly became known as a sack specialist, with 15 in 1986 and a personal season-best 19, just three short of the then-NFL record of 22, in 1990. By 1989, Smith, in notching his 52nd sack, had already become the Bills' all-time sack leader, claiming a team record that he was to raise 119 times over the years. Some conjecture that his 171 sacks in Buffalo set a standard that "may be unreachable" for future Bills.[3] Also in 1989, Bruce Smith signed an offer-sheet with the Denver Broncos for $7.5 million over five years, but the Bills matched the offer to retain him.[4] In 1990, his defensive performance helped bring the Bills to Super Bowl XXV, though 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 in the second quarter, becoming only the fifth player to record a Super Bowl safety. Later, Smith 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. Only a failed last-second field goal attempt kept the team from its first NFL championship (see Wide Right (Buffalo Bills)).

In 1991, though Smith's knee problems forced him out for most of the season, the Bills once again reached the Super Bowl. In 1992, in much better health, he was again a First-team All-Pro and was voted to the Pro Bowl while recording a team-leading 14 sacks.

By 1996, though the Bills' run of Super Bowl appearances had ended, Smith was still putting up prolific numbers, with 90 tackles and 14 sacks. In 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.

Smith, along with Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas, was dumped from the Bills roster in an emergency salary cap measure after the 1999 season.

Washington Redskins

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 passing situations. He pressed onward in pursuit of Reggie White's all-time sacks record (198, achieved in 15 seasons), which he passed in Week 14 of the 2003 NFL season by sacking New York Giants quarterback Jesse Palmer in a 20-7 win at Giants Stadium.[5] Smith finished his career with 200 career sacks, the only person ever to reach the 200 sack mark.

Smith had hinted in interviews that 2003 would be his final season, but never completely ruled out continuing to play. However, on February 24, 2004, the Redskins released Smith, saving $6.5 million in salary cap space.[6]

NFL Career Accomplishments

In his 19 NFL seasons, Smith played in 279 games, amassing 200 sacks, two interceptions, 46 forced fumbles, and 15 fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a 33-yard touchdown. Of his 19 seasons in the NFL, 13 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. His 200 sacks give him the record for most career quarterback take-downs. As Smith spent most of his career in a 3–4 defensive scheme, a defensive scheme not geared toward creating sack opportunities for defensive ends, many consider the record particularly impressive.[3] Indeed, Smith's peers elected him to the Pro Bowl every season from 1987 to 1998 (with the exception of 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).


  • 1995, inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
  • 1999, while still an active NFL player, Smith was ranked number 58 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
  • 2005, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, honoring players from around the state of Virginia.
  • 2006, Smith was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
  • 2008, he was part of the inaugural class to be inducted into the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame, an institution honoring athletes, coaches and administrators who made contributions to sports in Southeastern Virginia.
  • 2008, inducted onto the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame in 2008.
  • 2009, enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his first year of eligibility.
  • 2016, the Bills announced they were retiring Smith's #78. No player had worn the number since Smith left the team. His number was retired in a halftime ceremony on September 15, 2016 during a game against the New York Jets.

NFL career statistics

Regular Season Games Interceptions & Fumbles Sacks & Tackles
Year Team G GS Int FF FR Yds TD Sacks Comb Solo Ast Sfty
1985 BUF 16 13 4 0 0 6.5 48 48 0
1986 BUF 16 15 3 0 0 0 15.0 63 63 0
1987 BUF 12 12 3 2 15 1 12.0 78 78 0
1988 BUF 12 12 3 0 0 0 11.0 56 56 0 1
1989 BUF 16 16 13.0 88 88 0
1990 BUF 16 16 4 0 0 0 19.0 101 101 0
1991 BUF 5 5 1.5 18 18 0
1992 BUF 15 15 3 0 0 0 14.0 89 89 0
1993 BUF 16 16 1 3 1 0 0 14.0 108 108 0
1994 BUF 15 15 1 5 2 0 0 10.0 81 57 24
1995 BUF 15 15 1 1 0 0 10.5 74 52 22
1996 BUF 16 16 5 1 0 0 13.5 90 69 21
1997 BUF 16 16 14.0 65 49 16
1998 BUF 15 15 2 2 18 0 10.0 50 35 15
1999 BUF 16 16 3 1 0 0 7.0 45 30 15
2000 WAS 16 16 5 0 0 0 10.0 58 50 8 1
2001 WAS 14 14 0 3 1 0 0 5.0 41 30 11
2002 WAS 16 16 9.0 49 37 12
2003 WAS 16 8 5.0 22 17 5
Career 279 267 2 43 15 33 1 200.0 1,224 1,075 149 2

Post-football life

Smith lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Having returned to his home state, Smith works as a large-scale hotel designer, undertaking many projects with Armada Hoffler. Most recently, he returned to Blacksburg, the site of his collegiate successes, where he purchased the Red Lion Inn. He built a Hilton Garden Inn Hotel with 137 sleeping rooms and is working on redeveloping the site (Smith's Landing, hotel and restaurant complex).[7] A Baptist, he is a member of Queen Street Baptist Church in Norfolk. Smith and his wife Carmen have a son, Alston.

Smith also works with Thurman Thomas in their new business venture, Legends Energy Group. They promote energy programs across North America.

Smith, with Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas, and Jim Kelly would be the subject of the 30 for 30 film - Four Falls of Buffalo.[8][9]

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.[10]


  1. ^ Class of 2009 announced, Official Site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link). Retrieved February 1, 2009.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Wilson, Allen (August 19, 2009), "Bruce Smith: A rare talent: Bills legend's consistency and durability place him among the best defensive ends ever", Buffalo News
  4. ^
  5. ^ LITSKY, Frank. "PRO FOOTBALL; With No. 199, Smith Becomes Sack Leader". NY TImes. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
  6. ^ "Redskins cut four, including Smith". ESPN Sports. February 24, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2009.
  7. ^ Manese-Lee, Manese (May 11, 2007). "Red Lion Inn site plans become official". The Roanoke Times. Archived from the original on February 1, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2009.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 21, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Associated Press (July 9, 2009). "Smith to appeal DUI conviction". ESPN. Retrieved February 11, 2011.

External links

1984 Virginia Tech Hokies football team

The 1984 Virginia Tech Hokies football team represented the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in the 1984 NCAA Division I-A football season as a Division I-A Independent. The team was led by head coach Bill Dooley, in his seventh year, and played their home games at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia. They finished the season with a record of eight wins and four losses (8–4), and with a loss against Air Force in the Independence Bowl. Bruce Smith won the Outland Trophy and was the first pick overall in the 1985 NFL Draft.

1985 Buffalo Bills season

The 1985 Buffalo Bills season was the 26th season for the club and its sixteenth in the National Football League (NFL). It was Buffalo’s second-consecutive 2–14 season. Head coach Kay Stephenson was fired after an 0–4 start. Defensive coordinator Hank Bullough took over, going 2–10 for the remainder of the season.

1985 NFL Draft

The 1985 NFL draft was the procedure by which National Football League teams selected amateur college football players. The draft was held April 30 and May 1, 1985, at the Omni Park Central Hotel in New York City, New York. The league also held a supplemental draft after the regular draft and before the regular season.

The first six selections of the draft made at least one Pro Bowl, and three of the first 16 picks — Bruce Smith, Chris Doleman, and Jerry Rice — have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.For the second consecutive season, there were no quarterbacks chosen in the first round on draft day, although University of Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar was selected by the Browns in the supplemental draft several months later.

1987 Buffalo Bills season

The 1987 Buffalo Bills season was the 28th season for the club and its 18th in the National Football League (NFL).

On October 31, 1987, the Los Angeles Rams traded Eric Dickerson to the Indianapolis Colts in a three team trade involving the Bills. The Rams sent Dickerson to the Colts for six draft choices and two players. Buffalo obtained the rights to Cornelius Bennett from Indianapolis. Buffalo sent running back Greg Bell and three draft choices to the Rams, while Indianapolis added Owen Gill and three of their own draft picks to complete the deal with the Rams. Adding Bennett to the team helped to form the nucleus for a strong young defensive unit that would become the core of Buffalo's later Super Bowl teams.

1988 Buffalo Bills season

The 1988 Buffalo Bills season was the franchise's 29th overall season as a football team and the 19th in the [[National Football League. The Bills ended a streak of four consecutive losing seasons by winning the AFC East; they finished the NFL's 1988 season with a record of 12 wins and 4 losses; it was the club's first winning season since 1981, its first 12-win season since the 1964 AFL championship season, and only the fifth double-digit win season in team history. The Bills were 8–0 at home for the first time in their franchise history. On the road, the Bills were 4–4. From an attendance standpoint, the franchise set a record for attendance with 631,818 fans.The Bills started the season 11–1 before losing three of their final four games, costing them the top seed in the AFC, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

It was Buffalo's first trip to the postseason since 1981. The Bills were the #2 seed in the AFC (behind #1 Cincinnati), giving the Bills their first home playoff game since the 1966 AFL Championship, and their first ever playoff game at Rich Stadium. The 1988 season would be the first of five AFC Championship game appearances over six seasons, and their only loss in the conference championship game.

The 1988 season was the first for running back Thurman Thomas, nose tackle Jeff Wright, and linebacker Carlton Bailey. Thomas would rush for 881 yards, despite only carrying the ball 207 times (42.7% of total team carries by a running back) while sharing carries with Robb Riddick, Jamie Mueller and Ronnie Harmon.

The Bills had a dominant defense in 1988: they gave up the fewest points (237) and the fewest total yards (4,578) in the AFC in 1988. The defensive unit was given the nickname "Blizzard Defense," alluding to Buffalo's harsh winters.

Four Bills players made the All-Pro team in 1988: defensive end Bruce Smith, linebackers Shane Conlan and Cornelius Bennett, and kicker Scott Norwood.

Head coach Marv Levy was named NFL Coach of the Year by The Sporting News and UPI.

1990 NFL season

The 1990 NFL season was the 71st regular season of the National Football League. To increase revenue, the league changed the regular season so that all NFL teams would play their 16-game schedule over a 17-week period. Furthermore, the playoff format was expanded from 10 teams to 12 teams by adding another wild card from each conference, thus adding two more contests to the postseason schedule; this format remains in use today (although there are now four division spots and two wild card spots available with realignment in 2002). During four out of the five previous seasons, at least one team with a 10–6 record missed the playoffs, including the 11–5 Denver Broncos in 1985; meanwhile, the 10–6 San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl XXIII, leading for calls to expand the playoff format to ensure that 10–6 teams could compete for a Super Bowl win. Ironically, the first ever sixth-seeded playoff team would not have a 10–6 record, but instead, the New Orleans Saints, with a paltry 8–8 record, took the new playoff spot.

This was also the first full season for Paul Tagliabue as the league's Commissioner, after taking over from Pete Rozelle midway through the previous season.

ABC was given the rights to televise the two additional playoff games. Meanwhile, Turner's TNT network started to broadcast Sunday night games for the first half of the season.

On October 8, the league announced that the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award would be named the Pete Rozelle Trophy. The season ended with Super Bowl XXV when the New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills 20–19 at Tampa Stadium. This would be the first Super Bowl appearance for Buffalo, who would lose the next three Super Bowls as well.

Late in the season, with the Gulf War looming closer, the NFL announced that starting in Week 16 (and continuing until Super Bowl XXV), the league would add American flag decals to the back of the helmet. The flag would return on a permanent basis in 2001 following the September 11 attacks.

1996 NFL season

The 1996 NFL season was the 77th regular season of the National Football League and the season was marked by notable controversies from beginning to end. The season ended with Super Bowl XXXI when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots 35–21 at the Louisiana Superdome.

Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award

The Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award is given by the Associated Press (AP) to the league's most outstanding defensive player at the end of every National Football League (NFL) season. It has been awarded since 1971. The winner is decided by votes from a panel of 50 AP sportswriters who regularly cover the NFL. Since 2011, the award has been presented at the annual NFL Honors ceremony the day before the Super Bowl, along with other AP awards, such as the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award, AP NFL Most Valuable Player Award, and AP NFL Rookie of the Year Award.

Lawrence Taylor and J. J. Watt are the only three-time winners of the award. Joe Greene, Mike Singletary, Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Ray Lewis, and Aaron Donald have each won it twice. Taylor is the only player to win the award as a rookie, doing so in 1981. In 2008, James Harrison became the only undrafted free agent to win the award. White is the only player to win the award with two different teams, winning in 1987 with the Philadelphia Eagles and again with the Green Bay Packers in 1998. Watt is the only player to win the award unanimously, receiving 50 out of 50 first place votes in 2014. He was also a near-unanimous winner in 2012 as he earned 49 out of 50 votes.As of the end of the 2018 NFL season, linebackers have won the award 16 times, more than any other position. A defensive end has won thirteen times, followed by nine defensive tackles, five cornerbacks, and five safeties. Only two winners of the AP Defensive Player of the Year Award have also won the AP's Most Valuable Player Award for the same season: defensive tackle Alan Page in 1971 for the Minnesota Vikings and linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986 for the New York Giants. Aaron Donald is the incumbent holder of the award, winning it for the second consecutive year following the 2018 NFL season.


The English language name Bruce arrived in Scotland with the Normans, from the place name Brix, Manche in Normandy, France, meaning "the willowlands". Initially promulgated via the descendants of king Robert the Bruce (1274−1329), it has been a Scottish surname since medieval times; it is now a common given name.

The variant Lebrix and Le Brix are French variations of the surname.

Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith may refer to:

Bruce Smith (defensive end) (born 1963), retired American football player; holds the NFL record for most career quarterback sacks

Bruce Smith (halfback) (1920–1967), American football player, nicknamed "Boo," winner of the 1941 Heisman Trophy

Bruce Smith (Australian footballer) (born 1944), Australian rules footballer for Richmond

Bruce Smith (Australian politician) (1851–1937), member of the Australian House of Representatives

Bruce Smith (Ontario politician), former member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario

Bruce Smith (musician), former drummer with The Pop Group

Bruce Smith (poet) (born 1946), American poet

Bruce Smith (rugby union) (born 1959), New Zealand rugby union player

Bruce Atherton Smith (1937–2006), former member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick

Bruce D. Smith (born 1946), archaeologist and curator at Smithsonian Institution

Bruce I. Smith (born 1934), Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Bruce W. Smith (born 1961), African-American animator, film director, and television producer

Bruce Smith (Canadian football) (1949–2013), Canadian football player

Bruce Lannes Smith (1909–1987), American political scientist and communication theorist

List of Buffalo Bills first-round draft picks

The Buffalo Bills are an American football franchise based in Orchard Park, New York. They are members of the American Football Conference (AFC) East division in the National Football League (NFL).Every year during April, each NFL franchise seeks to add new players to its roster through a collegiate draft known as "the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting", which is more commonly known as the NFL Draft. The NFL Draft, as a whole, gives the advantage to the teams that did poorly the previous season. The 30 teams that did not make the Super Bowl are ranked in order so the team with the worst record picks first and the team with the best record pick last. The two exceptions to this inverse order are made for teams that appeared in the previous Super Bowl; the Super Bowl champion selects 32nd overall, and the Super Bowl loser selects 31st overall. If the franchise so chooses, they may trade their draft picks for any combination of draft picks, players, and money.

List of Virginia Tech Hokies in the NFL Draft

The Virginia Tech Hokies football team has had 139 players drafted into the National Football League (NFL) since the league began holding drafts in 1936. This includes nine players taken in the first round and two overall number one picks, Bruce Smith in the 1985 NFL Draft and Michael Vick in the 2001 NFL Draft. Eight former Virginia Tech players have been selected to a Pro Bowl, twelve have won a championship with their respective teams and one has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Each NFL franchise seeks to add new players through the annual NFL Draft. The draft rules were last updated in 2009. The team with the worst record the previous year picks first, the next-worst team second, and so on. Teams that did not make the playoffs are ordered by their regular-season record with any remaining ties broken by strength of schedule. Playoff participants are sequenced after non-playoff teams, based on their round of elimination (wild card, division, conference, and Super Bowl). Prior to the merger agreements in 1966, the American Football League (AFL) operated in direct competition with the NFL and held a separate draft. This led to a bidding war over top prospects between the two leagues. As part of the merger agreement on June 8, 1966, the two leagues held a multiple round "Common Draft". Once the AFL officially merged with the NFL in 1970, the "Common Draft" became the NFL Draft.

Led the league
NFL record
AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year
Bold Career high
Bruce Smith—awards and honors

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