CARDS: ProSet 1989, Score 1989, Fleer 1990, SkyBox 1992
ACQUIRED: TTM 2020, C/o Home
SENT: 5/16 RECEIVED: 5/26 (10 Days)
Coming from excellent bloodlines (his father Billy Ray Smith Sr played from 1957-1970), Billy Ray Smith Jr was the San Diego Chargers #1 pick in 1983 after an outstanding college career, where he finished second in Lombardi Award voting in both 1981 and 1982. A two time All-American at Arkansas, he started 48 games over his college career, posting 195 unassisted tackles, 63 tackles for loss, 8 fumble recoveries, 13 pass breakups and a pick. A fearsome and instinctual linebacker, Billy Ray Smith quickly established himself as the defensive play caller for the Chargers defense.
In 1985 Billy was voted the team’s most valuable player on defense, from his inside linebacker position. He moved outside in 1986, and immediately paid dividends, notching 11 sacks and again earned the praise of his teammates, earning the team’s defensive MVP award. Billy completed the trifecta in 1987 leading the team in tackles for the second consecutive year and pulling down 5 picks. Over his first 5 seasons with the franchise, Billy finished first or second in tackles on the Chargers defense. He also was named defensive player of the week by the NFL twice in his career. Most notable was a game in 1991 against the Saints, Billy Ray forced and recovered a fumble, intercepted a pass and had two pass breakups, to power the Chargers to a 24-21 win. All in all, Billy Ray Smith had a very solid and productive NFL career, playing 9 seasons for the Chargers retiring after the 92 season.
Smith was inducted into the University of Arkansas HoF in 97, earning both All Decade (80s) Honors and All Century Honors from the Razorbacks.
One of the kindest players in the TTM business, Billy Ray Smith went out of his way to sign these 5 cards for me and write me a personal response, thanking me and praising me for sending him one of his best letters.
I am always blown away by when a player takes the time to respond personally to my requests, and this one was no different. Billy Ray Smith was a pretty solid player and I always thought his omission from the game was a big slight, so I had no problem creating him and having him go one on one inside with big backs and taking them down.