Ravens Steve Smith Sr. feels it’s time to move on

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— As they say; “All good things come to an end.” For Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr, the end will be after this season. Smith announced that 2015 will be his final season in the NFL. The decision to retire has been one that Smith bounced back and forth with but was ultimately decided back in April. He said that he wanted to sleep on it and kept waking up with the same decision. Smith wants to be a full time dad and enjoy family life.

The announcement came at a time that no one expected. Smith in true form made a joke of the situation and how surprised the media was. “No disrespect, but you’re the only idiots in the room. Everybody else knew,” Smith said jokingly. He mentioned how his son will be making decisions about going to college soon, and how he wanted to be there for him. His son Peyton will begin playing soccer in college next year. He said that the roles will be reversed, whereas he will be going to see his son instead of his son getting up to see him on Saturdays in college and Sundays in the NFL.

Smith’s decision to retire has nothing to do with what he can or can’t do on the field. He is coming off of a season in which he posted 1,000 yards receiving on 79 receptions. Smith feels that he could still play and be productive but doesn’t want to just chase anything. “I probably could play two or three more years. But then I think you’re kind of just chasing; you’re just kind of just doing it to do it,” Smith said. “You’re doing it because you don’t have anything else to do.” 

According to Smith, some of his teammates panicked when they heard the news because they thought he was shutting it down right away. To their relief, he is going to give it one more shot this season. Smith has played in a Super Bowl with the Carolina Panthers back in 2003, but he has never won in the big game. That serves as yet another form of motivation for some of Smith’s teammates.

Courtney Upshaw spoke after Smith and shared how he feels this season should go. “For a guy like Steve [Smith Sr.] – as a team – we want to go out and let him go out the right way. He has – since he has been here, Day 1 – he has been one of those guys that,” Upshaw said; “You see us play on the field. The way he’s so hyped, why wouldn’t you want to play hard for that guy? We want to come together. You know what I’m saying? Let him go out the right way.”

The influence that Smith has on the locker room hasn’t gone unnoticed by head coach John Harbaugh. “He is definitely a tone-setter. It means a lot to have those kinds of guys. You have to have those kinds of personalities. Teams usually do have every kind of personality. I don’t think you can get by in this league without a guy with that personality,” Harbaugh said; “He is a guy who is a pit bull. He’s like daddy pit bull, and he has all these little young pit bulls he’s trying to raise up the right way, and I mean that in the most positive way. He’s just a really fiery competitor.”

Harbaugh pointed out that Smith forces players to bring their “A” game to practice or else they’ll get embarrassed. The young receivers on the team have benefited greatly from having Smith in the receiver room. It is not rare to see him working on technique with a receiver or giving him pointers after a play. Smith even does so with the defensive backs that he has to go against in practice.

Naturally, the Hall of Fame question comes into play. There was a period when Smith was one of the most dominant players at the receiver position. His ability to attack the ball and gain yards after the catch was second to none. Regardless of whether or not he becomes a Hall of Famer, Smith has had an influence on many players. Almost all receivers that are less than six feet tall mention Steve Smith as someone that they patterned their game after.

It will be hard for Smith to put this decision to action. He said that there will be a mourning process after walking away from the game that has become a huge part of his life. At this point, it’s all about enjoying his last season. Although he will miss playing the game, he still intends to stay close to the friends that he made during his time in the NFL.

“Relationships in football are built for a very long time, if they’re authentic relationships. If they’re not authentic relationships, they go; they fizzle out very quickly.” Smith said.