A recent quote from the Ravens' medical staff that was brought to light by Coach John Harbaugh confirms what we all already know. Steve Smith is no normal human.
"He's [in] the Hall of Fame of pain tolerance. That's what our doctors told me". - John Harbaugh on Steve Smith, Sr.
I can't think of any other player who is simply 'day-to-day' with broken ribs, but that's Steve's current injury description. Plus, he still hasn't been officially ruled out for this week's divisional battle with the Browns. Although he might miss this week, I'd bet that he's back sooner rather than later.
But to put it into perspective, why four broken ribs aren't a big deal to Smith, we have to go back about five years ago. In 2009, the Carolina Panthers faced the New York Giants. It was a blowout, 41-9 in the Panthers favor in what was the last game the Giants would play at Giants Stadium. While the result of this game has been glossed over and forgotten in league history, much like many other games, one play during this game would serve as the embodiment of Steve Smith's career.
Take a look.
Looks like another typical garbage time touchdown, right? Well look again, specifically, look at Steve Smith's left arm.
It's broken. But if it weren't for the obvious visual signs of such an injury, you could never tell that the receiver had endured such a great amount of pain. His nonchalant nature and touchdown celebration make him seem unafflicted by his suddenly useless limb.
This right here is who Steve Smith is. A baller, an 'OG' if you will. Smith loves the game, and his trademark feisty personality, coupled with his amazing durability and toughness make him one of the most unique players the game has to offer. In a league growingly obsessed with player safety, Smith is a welcome outlier from the status quo. Some of the game's grittiest players were also it's very best. Ronnie Lott, Chuck Bednarik, Rocky Bleier, Brett Favre, Jack Youngblood, and Mike Ditka all come to mind as some of the league's toughest fighters, and they were also some of the best to ever play.
While 'grit' or toughness can't be measured in any metric or stat, it's one of the most important components of the game. Players that go above and beyond to put the team on their backs, and ones that put their bodies and well-being on the line for the love of the game deserve to be commended.
While Smith Sr. may be a polarizing figure, it's hard to deny that he is deserving of a bust in Canton. Maybe it's just me, but a guy who has the 13th most career receiving yards, and the 15th most career receptions is more than deserving of a place in football history. Add in the fact that he is still one of the best in the league at age 36, and is singlehandedly carrying the Ravens' receiving attack on his back, you can't possibly deny his Canton legitimacy.
Now let's add a Super Bowl ring to finish off that already impressive résumé.