We knew it was coming. We just didn’t think it’d be quite this soon. Steve Smith Sr. has announced his plans to retire following the 2015 season. The news is saddening for Ravens fans who will have only seen Smith play in purple two years by this time next year.
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Seemed like yesterday the 36-year-old veteran wide receiver walked into the Baltimore locker room and immediately fit right in. Smith is widely known for his tough, physical playing and relentless work ethic. A natural Raven.
The truth is, however, Smith won’t be remembered as a Raven by most NFL fans. Smith spent the majority of his 14-year career with the Carolina Panthers. It is, after all, where he saw his lone Super Bowl appearance.
Drafted in the third round in 2001, Smith made an immediate impact in the NFL. Starting out on punt and kick return teams, Smith quickly rose to the top of the Panthers depth chart. But even more than just team accomplishments, Smith is regarded as one of the most productive receivers of the 21st century.
A five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All Pro, Smith led the NFL in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2005. Only two other players in history have accomplished the same feat: Jerry Rice and Sterling Sharpe. Not bad company I’d say.
So why are we mourning the inevitable loss of Smith? He’s only been here a year. Sure, last season he was clearly Joe Flacco‘s best receiver and target. But it’s only one year.
I think it’s remarkable how an athlete can walk into a completely new organization and instantly fit in like he’s been there for 15 years. And that’s exactly what Steve Smith makes every Ravens fan feel. Maybe he was meant to be a Raven all along.
The Baltimore Ravens are fortunate to have a truly one of a kind athlete retire in purple. We all look for forward to one more year of number 89. Baltimore let’s get Smith that championship that has eluded him. We’ll see you in Canton, Steve.
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