Jackie Smith, a 6-4, 235-pound tight end, was a fixture for 15 years with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1963 to 1977. He finished his career with the Dallas Cowboys in 1978. At the time of his retirement, he ranked as the all-time receiver among tight ends with 480 receptions for 7,918 yards and 40 touchdowns.
An outstanding football and track competitor at Northwestern Louisiana, Smith was the Cardinals' 10th-round draft pick 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 nine receptions against Pittsburgh 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 from 1967 through 1971, and was named All-NFL in 1967 and 1969. He had his single season best performance in 1967 when he recorded 56 receptions for 1,205 yards and nine touchdowns.
During his career, he caught more than 40 passes seven different years. His 16.5-yard average per reception is a reflection of both his excellent speed and determined running style.