It’s request Thursday on Obscure Athletes, and the first suggestion on Our Page On Facebook was for Otis Smith. And I’m absolutely Otis Smith’s biggest fan so he’s the man today.
Otis Smith is the consummate NFL underdog. In college, he suffered a separated shoulder but came back to be a two-year starter as an upperclassman. Undrafted out of Missouri, Smith signed on with the Eagles in training camp and made the team’s roster. In his four-year tenure with Philadelphia, he started only four games but appeared in all but one, mostly as a fifth defensive back. After his career in Philadelphia was over, Smith moved to greener pastures–namely, a Jets uniform, where he would be able to be a regular starter for the first time in his career.
Smith is known as one of the numerous “AFC East Guys” who seem to hop between AFC East teams throughout their career. He played 1995 for the Jets, but was waived by New York in late September of the following season, when he signed on with the Patriots. He went on to start nine games for New England, and was on the roster for their appearance in Super Bowl XXXI. That year, in the AFC Championship game against the Jaguars, Smith returned a fumble 47 yards for a touchdown, sealing the Jags’ fate.
The 1997 offseason saw Otis Smith on the move again, this time back to New York to play for the same Jets team that cut him less than a year before. The ’97 season was Smith’s best. He intercepted six passes, returning three for touchdowns, and forced a fumble. Otis Smith would stick around with the Jets until after his injury-riddled ’99 campaign, when once again, he was waived by the Jets and signed by the Pats.
Smith started for three more full seasons in New England, and he was key in Super Bowl XXXVI against St. Louis, recording an interception. Oft-forgotten about that game was the Otis Smith fumble return for a touchdown that was taken off the board due to a holding call on linebacker Willie McGinnest. Smith would play only one more year in New England, before signing with Detroit for the final season of his career. He started thirteen games.
Smith is now a defensive assistant for the Chiefs. I’ll always remember Smith for how much McGinnest fucked up his moment of fame in the Super Bowl. Super Bowl history may have forgotten Otis Smith, but Obscure Athletes sure hasn’t.