Edmonton Eskimos

Waddell Smith - Receiver - 1977-83 - Kansas


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Waddell Smith spent his entire seven-year career (1977-83) in the Canadian Football League with the Eskimos and was a part of the Esks five-in-a-row dynasty. He came to the CFL out of the University of Kansas after a successful yet tumultuous tenure at the school. Smith had disagreements with his coaches over his role in the offence and the number of chances given to him while at Kansas. He also was a star track athlete with world class speed similar to Eskimo teammate Larry Highbaugh. Smith was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs but would venture north to join the Eskimos in 1977. Learning under veteran George McGowan he quickly became a successful option at receiver for the Eskimos.

The New Orleans, LA product had his best season in 1979 when he caught 74 passes for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns, earning himself the Jeff Nicklin Trophy for the CFL’s West Division nominee for Most Outstanding Player.

Smith was a key cog in the team’s receiving corps that featured the likes of Brian Kelly, George McGowan, Tom Scott and Brian Fryer.

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When the Edmonton Eskimos had Waddell Smith in their lineup during that wonderful five-in-a-row Grey Cup stretch he was the fastest and flashiest of all the pass receivers available to Warren Moon, Tom Wilkinson and Bruce Lemmerman.

But not the best of them.

George McGowan and Brian Kelly caught more passes. They made all-star teams on a regular basis. While Smith captured headlines with his personality, they won games with their professiona


On one memorable day, after Smith scored on a long and flashy touchdown reception, Kelly summed up the feelings of the entire dressing room and made everyone laugh (including reporters) with one line:

“Waddell, next time you get to the end zone, why don’t you act like you’ve been there before?”

Waddell would have a strong career with the Eskimos as a tall, lanky speed threat. He would suffer through injuries in 1980 but return to his prior form in 1981 to go over 1,000 yards receiving. A gregarious player he was often a great quote for the local reporters and Warren Moon has gone on record calling Smith one of the funniest football players he has been around.


Smith left the Eskimos after the 1983 season and played 2 game with the Dallas Cowboys in 1984 before retiring from professional football.

-- statistics --



Waddell Smith   Kansas  
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1977 Edm 19 253 13.3 48 2
1978 Edm 58 875 15.1 50 9
1979 Edm 74 1,214 16.4 77 13
1980 Edm 30 482 16.1 58 4
1981 Edm 65 1,077 16.6 50 9
1982 Edm 41 729 17.8 58 7
1983 Edm 55 887 16.1 51 7
Total 7 342 5,517 16.1 77 51