Robert Vinson Smith (born July 3, 1965), is a former American football linebacker in the National Football League for the Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints. He played college football at East Carolina University.

Vinson Smith
No. 52, 55, 57
Personal information
Born: (1965-07-03) July 3, 1965 (age 54)
Statesville, North Carolina
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:247 lb (112 kg)
Career information
High school:Statesville
(Statesville, North Carolina)
College:East Carolina
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:148
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Early yearsEdit

Smith attended Statesville High School. As a senior, he received All-state honors at defensive tackle in football and also in baseball.

He accepted a football scholarship from East Carolina University. As a sophomore, he was a backup defensive lineman and posted 2 interceptions. He was converted into an inside linebacker and became a starter as a junior, leading the team with 116 tackles. As a senior, he collected 118 tackles (led the team) and 2 interceptions.

Smith finished his college career with 294 tackles, 4 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries.

In 2003, he was inducted into the East Carolina University Athletics Hall of Fame.

Professional careerEdit

Atlanta FalconsEdit

Smith was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons after the 1988 NFL Draft. On August 29, he was placed on the injured reserve list with an elbow injury. He was activated on November 5, but only appeared in 3 games. On December 10, he was placed on the injured reserve list for the last 2 weeks of the season.

Pittsburgh SteelersEdit

On February 28, 1989, he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a Plan B free agent, but broke his right foot during preseason and was placed on the injured reserve list on August 29.

Dallas Cowboys (first stint)Edit

Although he didn't have many regular season games, Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt remembered his playing days at East Carolina University, and signed him as a Plan B free agent on March 3, 1990.

Smith was a special teams standout and led the unit in tackles until late in the 1990 regular season, when he replaced an injured Ken Norton, Jr. at weakside linebacker against the Philadelphia Eagles. That performance earned him his first career start and game MVP honors, in the team's next game against the Atlanta Falcons, when he had 11 tackles and recovered one fumble. He finished with 22 special teams tackles (second on the team), 23 defensive tackles, 2 fumble recovered and one forced fumble.

In 1991, he started 12 games at weakside linebacker, although he contracted hepatitis, which forced the team to place him on injured reserve for 3 games (week 10 through week 12), and have Dixon Edwards replace him in the starting lineup. He registered 71 tackles (sixth on the team), onetackle for loss, 3 quarterback pressures, one pass defensed and one forced fumble.

In 1992, he started 13 games at strongside linebacker, posting 69 tackles (fifth on the team), 3 tackles for loss, 13 special teams tackles (fourth on the team), one sack and one and one quearterback pressure. The Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVII with him as a starter and contributing to the goal-line stand, that stopped the Buffalo Bills inside the Cowboys 1-yard line.

On August 17, 1993, after defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt became the head coach for the Chicago Bears, he traded for Smith, linebacker Barry Minter and a sixth-round draft pick, in exchange for linebacker John Roper, tight end Kelly Blackwell and safety Markus Paul.[1]

Chicago BearsEdit

In 1993, he was named the starter at strongside linebacker and had 83 tackles. The next year, he played in 12 games (10 starts), but was limited with knee and ankle injuries that affected his production. He was replaced in the starting lineup with Ron Cox.

On March 1995, the Bears signed him to a new two-year contract. He was awarded the Ed Block courage award at the end of the season. He was a four-year starter at strongside linebacker for the team.

Dallas Cowboys (second stint)Edit

On July 18, 1997, he signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys. His preseason performance allowed the team to release Alan Campos, keeping only 5 linebackers, with Smith backing up all three linebacker positions, in order to make room for cornerback Deion Sanders under the salary cap.[2] He appeared in 14 games with 3 starts, missing 3 games with a broken jaw. He wasn't re-signed after the season.

New Orleans SaintsEdit

On September 9, 1998 he signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints, where he played as a backup for two years. On December 16, 1999, he was placed on the injured reserve list.

Personal lifeEdit

Smith is the owner of JPC Bail Bonds. He was the football head coach of Piedmont Christian High School and has held many football training camps for the youth of Iredell County, North Carolina. He is married to Maria Robinson-Smith they have 5 children and 6 grandchildren.


  1. ^ "Cowboys, Bears swap five players". Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  2. ^ "Dallas makes room for Deion". Retrieved January 7, 2018.

External linksEdit