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The Chiefs Legend Sadly Missing From The Hall Of Fame

The Chiefs have seen their share of Hall of Famers in franchise history. In total, the team has 22 players enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Who isn’t voted in but deserves it most?

Derrick Thomas, Len Dawson, Buck Buchanan, and Willie Lanier. Those are some of the Chiefs’ headliners already enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, plenty of other franchise legends have made their mark in spectacular ways yet remain absent from the halls of Canton. Deron Cherry was among the very best at his position for the better part of a decade, ultimately earning himself five All-Pro nods. Similarly, Otis Taylor, a two-time All-Pro, was a dominant wide receiver that helped the Chiefs win their first Super Bowl in Super Bowl IV.

Both players are currently honored in the Chiefs’ own Hall of Fame and more than deserving of a trip to Canton. However, another former player has an even bigger case to make for a nomination into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Neil Smith, who dominated opposing defenses with another Chiefs all-time great, Derrick Thomas, throughout the 1990s, is the Chiefs’ biggest snub currently missing from the Hall of Fame.

Chiefs DE Neil Smith Made His Case For The Hall On The Field

Neil Smith was drafted second overall by Kansas City in the 1988 NFL Draft. The team felt so strongly that he would become a dominant player that they traded up just one spot from number three after rumors that Detroit would draft Smith second overall. The Chiefs traded pick three and pick 29 to the Lions to acquire pick two and select Smith in 1988.

The trade more than paid off, as he would go on to play nine seasons for the team. In that span, he amassed five Pro Bowl selections, two All-Pro nominations, and finished top-five in Defensive Player of the Year voting twice. From 1990-1995, Smith ranked fourth in the entire NFL in sacks. In that span, he trailed just Leslie O’Neal, Reggie White, and Derrick Thomas.

White and Thomas, of course, are honored in the Hall of Fame already, and O’Neal has a strong case to make of his own. When compared to other Hall of Fame defensive ends, the case for Smith becomes perhaps even stronger. Smith has more career sacks than Howie Long. His two Super Bowl rings are more than soon-to-be Hall of Famer Jared Allen.

Of course, both Super Bowls came after Smith’s time with the Chiefs was over. He played three seasons for the Broncos, ultimately winning both championships and earning one All-Pro nomination in his time with Denver.

Chiefs Saw Smith Be Dominant Sharing Sacks With Greatness

Perhaps Smith isn’t in the Hall of Fame because he falls just short on the all-time leaderboards. Sure, he ranks third all-time in franchise history for sacks, behind just Derrick Thomas and Tamba Hali. His 28 career forced fumbles are third in team history also and he ranks seventh in tackles. Based on Pro-Football Reference’s Approximate Value Stat, Smith is the 14th most valuable Chief of all time (both offense and defense included).

However, Smith’s 104.5 career sacks rank just 40th all-time among the entire NFL. His 625 career tackles rank just 77th all time. Is this what’s holding Smith back from the Hall? In his defense, it should only help Smith that he played alongside Derrick Thomas who dominated as well and even exceeded Smith’s production totals.

Smith was able to post such dominant totals, including leading the entire NFL in sacks in 1993, despite playing alongside such dominant sack leaders like Thomas, Dan Saleaumua, and Bill Maas. The Chiefs’ defense in the late ’80s and early ’90s was anchored by additional talents such as Dale Carter, Albert Lewis, and Deron Cherry. With so many players dominating on defense, it was all but impossible for Smith to log 20-plus sack seasons in his time with Kansas City.

If Neil Smith had played on a worse group of defenses with more lackluster talent around him, it’s possible he’d have dominated even more. Regardless, his dominance for the Chiefs has earned him a spot in the team’s Ring of Honor. He deserves a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well.

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Which former Chiefs player deserves to be in the Hall of Fame most? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.

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