Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith has decided that this season will be his last according to Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com. By commiting to retirement at the end of the season, many fans would consider this reminiscent to Ray Lewis' "last ride" during the 2012 playoff and eventual Super Bowl for the Baltimore Ravens.
The gritty wide receiver is 36-years-old entering this season and has stated previously that he didn't want to play until he was in his 40s like Jerry Rice did. With a new son recently and the state of football players after long careers, it should be no surprise that Smith wants to walk away from football while he still can, hopefully with an elusive ring on his finger
I really don’t have the family structure to chase 40, to be honest. I have a lot of things on my ‘to do’ list that don’t have to do anything with football. So, I’m going to take it day by day, but I will not be playing until I’m 40.
The announcement still comes as a surprise since it is so early into the preseason and Smith has been asked a few times about his plan on retirement. Senior had been very direct that he had to change very little over the years in his play style and preparation for football.
Age comes, but football conditioning and routes and all that stuff, that doesn’t change with age. Obviously, you probably have to start a little bit earlier. But yes, I’m 36, and I remember last year when I signed here [the media was not] expecting anything from a 35-year-old. Now, [the media has] to pick on me, because I’m 36. I’m just going to play football and practice. I think I look halfway decent. I think there are teams that probably [are] drafting wide receivers hoping that they can get a guy fresh out of a college [who is] able to put up 1,000 yards [like] I did at 35, [and] they’re hoping a 20-something-year-old kid can do [it too]. I think age is a number, and you either show your age and that number over time … But right now, I feel good, and I’m playing well, so I think 36 is good.
While Smith currently ranks 14th all-time in receiving yards with 13,262 yards, he could achieve a top-10 ranking by the end of the season as he sits only 637 yards from former Viking and Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter. If Smith were to replicate last season's totals, he would be just shy of Reggie Wayne's 14,345 yards with 14,327 yards of his own.
Ravens fans will miss Steve Smith, but he should be remembered as yet another player that knew how to 'play like a Raven'.