Jimmy Smith Should Serve as Cautionary Tale to Young NFL Stars

John RozumCorrespondent IMay 14, 2013

Jimmy Smith was among the best receivers of his era. Unfortunately, he wasn't the same off the field.
Jimmy Smith was among the best receivers of his era. Unfortunately, he wasn't the same off the field.A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Jimmy Smith, a former receiver of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 1995 through 2005, has landed himself in prison.

Smith is serving six years of jail time, according to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, for possession of cocaine and an illegal firearm:

Former Jacksonville Jaguars standout Jimmy Smith currently is serving a six-year sentence in Mississippi prison on two charges, the Mississippi Department of Corrections confirmed Monday.

Smith is serving four years for cocaine possession and two more years for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

For as unfortunate as Smith's situation has become, we can only hope it serves as a harsh reality check to young NFL stars. The combination of fame and windfall certainly has an upside, but the drop to rock-bottom is also much longer.  

In addition, this is not Smith's first rodeo with off-the-field issues.

During his career, Smith had reportedly tested positive for cocaine in November of 2001, according to Paul Pinkham and Veronica Chapin of the South Florida Times-Union:

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith tested positive for cocaine after a Nov. 11 traffic stop but won't be charged with drug use or driving under the influence, prosecutors said Monday.

Fast forward to April of 2009, and Smith found himself in even more trouble. Per TMZ.com, he was being held for more than just cocaine:

Smith -- who was arrested early this afternoon after being pulled over in Jacksonville -- was booked for felony possession of cocaine, possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license. Smith was also charged with "felony possession/sell of a controlled substance."

Despite finishing his illustrious NFL career with five Pro Bowl selections, 12,287 receiving yards on 862 receptions including 67 touchdowns, Smith failed to control himself outside of the gridiron. That is where a person's true character gets unearthed.

How one carries him or herself when all the cameras aren't around says a lot.

Expecting to act as a positive influence comes with the territory of being a professional athlete, and that maintains itself once a player is retired. That also goes double for professional football because of the immense popularity of the sport.

When players experience issues off the field, the integrity of the game's history becomes at risk as well, which doesn't bode well for the NFL's brand or impact on society.

Although pro athletes don't receive nearly as much exposure after their playing days, we don't forget who they are, regardless of what unfolds when the lights go off.