Broncos legend Rod Smith visits Farmington

Karl Schneider
Travis Perkins, left, of Farmington, shakes hands with former Denver Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith on Saturday at the new Dick's Sporting Goods on East Main Street in Farmington.

FARMINGTON – A line of more than 300 people, young and old alike, stood inside the newly opened Dick’s Sporting Goods store on East Main Street this morning.

The first, Travis Perkins, pulled into the parking lot at 11 p.m. Friday and slept in his vehicle to secure his spot at the front of the line. The second visitor showed up around 2 a.m. Most arrived after the sun rose, but they were all there for the same reason — a chance to exchange a few seconds of small talk with and receive an autograph from Rod Smith.

Smith, who played all 14 of his seasons in the NFL for the Denver Broncos, and who still owns the franchise record for most receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in a career, made the appearance to promote the store’s opening for a couple of reasons — the positive brand he believes Dick’s has created and the fans of Farmington.

“I had been here before and have always had great love here in Farmington. Especially for the Broncos, we always had great love from New Mexico, period,” Smith said.

Years ago, Smith and several other Broncos stopped in Farmington to play a charity basketball game against members of the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, the Broncos won, Smith said, recalling that the gym was packed. When Smith was approached about a month ago about making a return trip to Farmington, he said he’d make it happen.

“I know a lot of Broncos players, and ex-players, don’t get to come to this area a lot of times, and I really wanted to do it,” he said.

As a businessman, Smith is as busy as he was when he was an All-Pro wide receiver. He has partnered with a gourmet coffee company and has various real estate ventures that keep him busy.

But thoughts of football and the Broncos are never far away.

Last week, Smith joined a number of other Denver greats for Broncos owner Pat Bowlen’s induction into the team’s Ring of Fame, which Smith was inducted to in 2012.

The Broncos remain one of four unbeaten teams in the NFL this season with a record of 7-0. Yet, Smith said his former team needs to play better.

“Honestly, they have to play better, and I know that sounds crazy when they’re 7-0. I kind of called them out when they were 6-0 when I said, ‘You ain’t even playing good,’” Smith said. “Last week, after that speech, they handled Green Bay like you couldn’t believe, but it wasn’t just defense.”

So far this season, the Denver defense has been the anchor of the team, holding opponents to a league-best 261.1 yards and 16 points per game.

The defense did its part against the then unbeaten Packers, while the offense came alive with its best performance of the season for a 29-10 victory.

Now, Smith is looking to the special teams to take the next step.

“I’m still waiting on special teams to contribute, too. Special teams has not been contributing," Smith said. "We’re doing enough to win, but my thing is dominate. You don’t want to just win the game, you want to dominate.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.