Torrey Smith was driving around Baltimore when he got the call two weeks ago that he’d be joining the Philadelphia Eagles.
The former Ravens receiver was released by the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, and there were reports that he was considering a return to the team that drafted him in 2011. Smith is still highly involved in the Baltimore community and considers the city home, but he ultimately took a three-year deal with the Eagles reportedly worth $15 million.
“There’s always a possibility of everything, but things didn’t work out [with returning to the Ravens], and everything happens for reason,” Smith said Sunday before his annual charity basketball game at Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena. “No hard feelings. I have all the love in the world for everyone over there [with the Ravens]. Everyone knows that.”
Smith emphasized that he still feels like he’s part of the Baltimore community even though he hasn’t worn purple and black since 2014. A strong turnout at his charity game shows that he hasn’t lost any popularity among Ravens fans.
“Sometimes I can’t even tell that I’ve been gone. It’s like home. Everyone, no matter where I am around here, they always show a lot of love and I appreciate it,” Smith said. “Our roots in the community are bigger than football. I meet people here and they feel like I’m their nephew or their grandson or something. I don’t know why it is. I can’t really explain it. It’s always been amazing, and it’s home for us.”
In addition to the charity game giving Smith a chance to come back to Baltimore, it was also a bit of a reunion for several former Ravens from the Super Bowl XLVII team. Ed Reed, Ray Rice, Jacoby Jones, Anquan Boldin and Tyrod Taylor all came back to play in the game.
Rice and Reed found each other in the media room and did an impromptu joint press conference.
“We got a Super Bowl together,” Rice said. “Nobody can take that away from us. I don’t care how you slice it and dice it. We won, and we got a tight-knit bunch. It’s as simple as a text and we’re coming out.
“It does feel refreshing to come back to Baltimore. This is definitely a great city. The one thing I do miss personally is the me-to-you interaction. That’s something I’ve always been about, and today will be that too, where I get the me-to-you interaction that I’ve always missed with the people.”
Rice said that he hasn’t given up hope of getting back into the NFL, and Reed made a pitch for his former teammate to get back into the game.
“If I was coaching, I would hire you,” Reed said.
The basketball game was almost background noise for the players, who were just happy to re-connect with each other. Smith, Reed, Rice, Boldin and Jones all played a significant role in Baltimore’s second Super Bowl, and they all enjoyed a chance to spend a few hours together again in the city where they won a championship.
“This is what it’s about,” Reed said. “I get to see my brothers and be back in the Baltimore community. That’s what it’s all about.”