During sportsline's tribute to Bruce Smith upon his Hall of Fame induction there was one sentence that resonated with me.
"What's most impressive is that Smith registered many of his 171 sacks in Buffalo while playing in a 3-4 defense, which should have made it easier for opponents to stop him. It's a feat Smith is quick to point out."
For a fan who is knowledgeable about the game this is the stat that illustrates how truly dominant Smith was.
The D-lineman on a 3-4 are responsible for taking on multiple blockers and keep them occupied. This lets the linebackers make the majority of big plays. Bruce Smith wasn't supposed to be the sack king, but he was in spite of his team's defensive philosophy.
As a Redskins fan I think he played one year too many. He was still a force for three years with the Skins, but by his last year you could see him overpower his man but just not have the speed to round the corner. Bruce Smith probably had more QB hurries his last season than any other player. It was like watching a slow motion replay. He beats his man. He is coming for the QB. He is still coming. He's getting close. Then a second before impact the QB would unload the ball. I could see that even though he didn't have it he still was trying his hardest. And I know that it frustrated him more than any Skin's fan.
The Skins would have been better served to go with someone else that last year. But in retrospect, I'm glad they didn't. It was painfully obvious that he wanted that sack record, and the Redskins gave him the opportunity to get it.
The Skins have made many regrettable free agent acquisitions recently, but I don't fault them for getting Bruce Smith.
He should rightfully go into Canton with a Bills helmet. But there should be a small Redskins sticker at the back of that helmet. Many greats have played past their prime with other teams. Bruce Smith can be proud to know that unlike many others, he made a positive contribution to those Redskin teams.