Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith is a solid candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame following the numbers he’s posted during his career. But the 33-year-old seems to be indifferent to a possible induction once his playing career comes to a close.
Smith’s numbers mirror those of other Hall of Fame safeties
Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 2020. And based on stats alone, one could argue that Smith is just as deserving through 145 career games. The 33-year-old has tallied 861 tackles, 16.5 sacks, 29 interceptions, 42 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles, and scored four touchdowns over the course of his 10-year career.
Through Polamalu’s first 145 games, the former Steeler totaled 718 tackles, 12 sacks, 32 interceptions, 51 tackles for loss, 13 forced fumbles, and scored five touchdowns.
It’s easy to see why Smith’s career is the subject of Hall of Fame debate. But while the player is well aware, he doesn’t seem to care whether he makes it or not.
“I could probably make a case for it, but I’ve always been a guy that just likes to play,” he told the YouTube show Vikings Circle recently. “People want to rank me somewhere or put me in this list or whatever — that’s cool, and I appreciate that. I don’t take that stuff for granted.
“But at the end of the day, I’m still just trying to make plays. So, if I make enough plays and people like it, that’s cool. If I make enough plays and no one notices, I don’t really care, either, because I’m still having fun and doing what I know I’m good at.”
Does Smith need a Super Bowl ring to solidify Hall credentials?
Smith won’t refuse an induction, obviously, but his attitude towards potentially getting inducted is pretty laid back, which is how he’s been for the Vikings for 10 years. That isn’t to say he’s passive on the field – no, far from it. But Smith flies under the radar and isn’t out there promoting himself.
Polamalu was different in that sense as he had the game, the swag, and a Super Bowl trophy to cement his case. Smith is lacking in this area.
A Super Bowl appearance and an ensuing win would certainly solidify entry into the Hall of Fame for Smith. The Vikings aren’t among the favorites to win it all heading into Smith’s 11th year, though. The odds are a wide 40/1 on the top betting sites for Minnesota’s chances of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in 2023.
If he retires without a Super Bowl win to his name, he’d just have to hope the voters deal with him fairly and closely examine how his numbers compare to those of other Hall of Fame safeties in Canton.
Former Vikings GM believes the Dolphins — not the Vikings — are a Super Bowl sleeper
As for the team’s success next season, we’ll just have to wait and see. Minnesota’s former general manager, Rick Spielman, seems to have more faith in the Miami Dolphins than he does in the Vikings. Spielman recently said he has tabbed Miami as the team most likely to have a season similar to the one the Cincinnati Bengals had in 2021.
The Bengals went 4-11-1 in 2020 as first overall pick Joe Burrow missed the last six games with a torn ACL. Returning for a healthy second year and teaming up with former college teammate Ja’Marr Chase, the Bengals went all the way to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Los Angeles Rams.
The speedy turnaround for Cincinnati has gotten other teams believing they could do it, too. And Spielman has pointed to the Dolphins as the team that could spring up from obscurity to challenge for a conference championship.
Speaking on a recent podcast, Spielman talked up Miami’s chances heading into the upcoming season.
“They’ve got a really good defense,” said Spielman. “The (Xavien) Howard contract dilemma is done, so that should be a non-factor. I think (Jevon) Holland is going to be a young, rising potential Pro Bowl-type talent at the safety position. And then what they did on offense with going to get Hill and Cedrick Wilson, and they got a Pro Bowl-type tight end, pass-catching tight end (in Mike Gesicki) and they helped the offensive line by signing Connor Williams from Dallas and going to get Armstead from New Orleans to solidify the left tackle position. Then they got whole different types of running backs. … It’s (Mike) McDaniel’s first year as the head coach, but if he can do what he did in San Francisco with that run game, that takes a lot of pressure off Tua (Tagovailoa).
“And then I think you just have to ask yourself, does Tua have more upside or more potential than Garoppolo? And what he (McDaniel) did with Garoppolo and if he can elevate his game because Garoppolo got them to the NFC Championship game last year. But they had a good offensive line, they had a really good running game. That’s why I’m excited to see what he will do with Tyreek Hill and with some of these weapons in the running back room, how he’s going to utilize those guys. I think Miami may surprise a lot of people, too, and rise up through it.”
The Dolphins went 9-8 last season and got themselves within striking distance of a playoff spot. And that was after losing seven straight to start the season, only to follow up with seven straight wins in one of the most bizarre campaigns any team has ever had.