Before there was DeSean Jackson there was Dave Smith.
During a Monday Night Football game in September 2008, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson flipped the ball behind him before crossing the goal line during a game against the Dallas Cowboys, negating what would have been Jackson’s first NFL touchdown.
In 1971 Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Dave Smith committed a similar blunder while celebrating prematurely during a Monday Night Football game against the Kansas City Chiefs. After Smith caught a pass from Terry Bradshaw he had a clear path to the end zone. But he put both hands up to celebrate before he crossed the goal line, and the ball fell out of his left hand and rolled out of the back of the end zone as Smith slipped to the ground. The Steelers would go on to lose the game, 38-16.
According to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Smith passed away this past week, per Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), where Smith is a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame, having been enshrined in 1987. Smith played football, basketball and baseball at IUP, excelling at football and basketball in particular.
Fittipaldo also reminds readers of an interview Smith did with Steelcity Insider in 2018 in which the former Steelers wide receiver recalled what happened that night, saying:
“After the play I had to walk by the Kansas City bench, then Pittsburgh players. They were all on the same side then. I walked by Chuck [Noll] and he gave me a wry smile. ‘Do you think you can get us another one?’ he asked me. I said I would get him another before the night was out.” (He didn’t.)
Dave Smith’s Career With the Pittsburgh Steelers
Dave Smith was selected by the Steelers in the eighth round of the 1970 NFL Draft, the same draft that produced QB Terry Bradshaw in round one, WR Ron Shanklin in round two, and CB Mel Blount in round three.
Smith is best-remembered as being the first IUP grad to be drafted into the NFL. He started 27 games for Chuck Noll, catching a total of 87 passes and scoring 7 touchdowns (while wearing #88) before being traded to the Houston Oilers in the middle of the 1972 season. He went on to finish his career with the Chiefs in 1973.
Dave Smith’s MNF Gaffe Recalls Other Steelers Bloopers
Naturally, Dave Smith’s gaffe recalls other notable Pittsburgh Steelers bloopers from days gone by.
In October 1990, rookie RB Barry Foster failed to field a kickoff in a game against the San Francisco 49ers, allowing the 49ers to recover the live ball. The score was 13-7 at the time of Foster’s mistake, which allowed the Niners to take a 20-7 lead en route to a 27-7 victory that permitted San Francisco to remain undefeated.
More recently, rookie wide receiver Plaxico Burress spiked a live ball during a game at Jacksonville in 2000, a game the Steelers won 24-13.
Follow the Heavy on Steelers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
READ NEXT: 6 Steelers Among PFF’s All-Decade Top 101