Jackie Larue Smith (born February 23, 1940 in Columbia, Mississippi) is a former professional American football player in the NFL. He played tight end for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys from 1963 to 1978. He has career marks of 480 receptions, 7918 yards, and 40 touchdowns. He attended Northwestern Louisiana State University, now Northwestern State University.
An outstanding football and track competitor at Northwest Louisiana, Smith joined the Cardinals in 1963. Smith was a talented receiver, a punishing blocker, a fierce competitor and an excellent runner after he caught the ball. he even handled the Cardinals' punting chores his first three seasons.
Smith became the Cardinals' starting tight end during his 1963 rookie season and remained a fixture at that spot the rest of his tenure in St. Louis. He gave notice of things to come when he gained 212 yards on 9 receptions against the Pittsburgh Steelers that year.
The team's offensive co-captain, Smith had one string of 45 straight games from 1967 to 1970 with at least one reception. he played in 121 straight games starting with his first NFL contest and continuing until a knee injury sidelined him in his ninth season in 1971.
Injuries slowed him again in 1975 and 1976 but Smith still played in 198 games. Smith played in five straight Pro Bowls, and was named All-NFL in 1967 and 1969. He had his single season best performance in 1967 when he received 56 receptions for 1,205 yards and 9 touchdowns.
After spending his entire career with the Cardinals, Smith signed with Dallas in 1978. Although the 38-year old Smith was used only as a blocking tight end in the goal line formation and didn't catch a pass during the entire season, joining Dallas allowed him to make his first (and only) trip to the NFL Super Bowl (The Cardinals only made the playoffs twice in his 15 seasons, and they lost both times in the first round). Unfortunately, this turned out to leave a bitter mark on his career, as he ended up being remembered for committing one of the most famous errors in Super Bowl history. With his team trailing the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-14 in the third quarter of Super Bowl XIII, Smith dropped a third down pass in the end zone from quarterback Roger Staubach. Because of the drop, the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal to make the score 21-17. The Cowboys ended up losing the game by 4 points, 35-31, and Smith retired before the start of the next season.
During his career, he caught more than 40 passes 7 different year. His 16.5-yard average per reception is a reflection of both his excellent speed and determined running style.
At the time of his retirement, Smith's 7,918 receiving yards were the most ever by an NFL tight end, and would remain so until narrowly surpassed by Ozzie Newsome's 7,980 yards in 1990.
ESPN ranked Smith's dropped pass in the end zone #24 on their list of "100 Greatest Super Bowl Moments".
On January 29, 1994, Smith was hardly the "sickest man in America" as he was officially voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. In 2001. he was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.