Ever since Steve Smith announced that he would be hanging up the cleats for good after this season, there's been plenty of rampant speculation concerning the 'truthiness' of his statement. While that's all been simple gossip, we now have the closest thing to a good source on the matter.
According to Jim Trotter of ESPN, Smith's agent Derrick Fox isn't so sure that the receiver is really calling it quits.
Here's what the guy who knows Smith "better than anybody but his wife" had to say.
"I’ve told him, ‘I don’t think that you’re really going to retire.’ The guy is just an insane competitor, and I think as long as his body works appropriately he’s really going to have a hard time next August saying, ‘Oh, wow. Guys are going to camp.’ He’s never experienced it in his entire life, and he’s got a lot left in the tank."
Fox says Smith is no stranger to the concept of retiring, and fondly remembers a conversation he and Smith had after the 2001 season.
"After the 2001 season, he and Smith were relaxing on a catamaran off a Hawaiian shore. They were there because Smith had earned a spot in the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Times were good. The future was bright. Smith, who was 22 years old and married with one child at the time (he has four kids now), turned to Fox and said he planned to play for only three or four years, then retire and watch son Peyton grow up."
While Smith has certainly thought over the idea of retiring countless times before, it certainly doesn't seem like he should quit playing the game he loves anytime soon. Based on the stats alone, Smith is one of the league's best wideouts. He is a top ten player in the categories of receiving yards, yards per game, and catches.
What the stats don't show is the passionate fervor which Smith still plays with each and every Sunday. He is still talking trash, spinning the ball, and showboating, just as he did a decade ago. It's what his former quarterback Jack Delhomme calls "competitive arrogance."
While Smith is the kind of guy who seems set in his ways, and unwilling to go back on his words, he's also a real competitor. There's no doubt that Smith is suffering amid the Ravens' dreadful season, and it's hard to imagine that he'd want to go out like this.
When asked for the odds of Smith returning for 2015, his agent simply set the line at 50-50.
His retirement may be on the line, but one this is for certain, as long as Steve Smith wants to play ball, there's a spot for him on the Ravens' football team, and in the hearts of their fans.