Throughout the 2009 regular season, the Redskins are putting a spotlight on a Hall of Famer each week. This week: Bruce Smith.
When Bruce Smith was inducted into the Hall of Fame in August this year, he did so as a member of the Buffalo Bills.
The final years of his career, however, and the year where he became the NFL's all-time sack leader, belong to the burgundy and gold.
The 19-year veteran joined the Redskins as a free agent in 2000 at the age of 36. Coming off their most successful season since Joe Gibbs first retirement, the Redskins were primed to make a run deep into the postseason, with Smith serving as the missing piece.
His defensive experience and leadership paid immediate dividends as he finished second on the team with 10 sacks.
Despite his stellar individual play, Smith's presence elevated the performance of his fellow defensive lineman, none more so than Marco Coleman. The most obvious benefactor of Smith's presence, Coleman notched career-high 12 sacks and appeared in his first, and only, Pro Bowl.
While the Redskins sputtered to an 8-8 season, the defense was consistently fearless and ranked in the top ten overall for that year.
Following his inaugural campaign in Washington, Smith recorded 19 sacks in his final three years making him the team's sixth all-time leading sack leader with 29.
A first overall pick in 1985 by the Bills, Smith spent the first fifteen years of his career in New York appearing in four Super Bowls.
His greatness was evident his rookie season when he led the Bills with 6.5 sacks, the third lowest total of his career. He went on to play 15 years with the Bills.
The only player to reach 200 career sacks, Smith was an uncanny 11-time Pro Bowl selection, nine-time All-Pro selection, and the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year twice.
"We were fortunate to have Bruce as a Redskin for his final four playing years, and as a Redskin when he set the all-time sack record," Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said. "He's a consummate professional in life, as he was in the locker room and on the field. He's a personal friend, and the epitome of a Hall of Famer. Redskins fans will always feel part of his stellar career."
A native of Norfolk, Virginia, the "Sack Man" is one of the most honored players in Virginia Tech history recording 46 career sacks and earning All-American honors his junior and senior seasons.