Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis finished several interviews after Pro Bowl practice and was headed into the locker room.
An NFL public relations representative went to whisk Thomas away from reporters, but the veteran defender wanted to do one more interview when he realized it was about his good friend and long-time teammate Steve Smith Sr.
"This one is about Smitty, so I want to do it," he said.
Smith and Davis spent 10 years together in Carolina, and still remain close friends. They are two of the best players in Carolina franchise history, and as Smith heads off into retirement, Davis hopes that his former teammate gets to say a proper goodbye to Panthers fans by ceremoniously retiring with the organization.
Davis believes the Panthers would "absolutely" be receptive to the idea.
"I know it would go over well," Davis said. "I've been talking to him about it, and hopefully they get it ironed out over there, and he's shown the respect that he deserves. I would love it. I think he's put way too much into the organization not to do that."
Smith spent 13 seasons with the Panthers and is the most productive receiver in franchise history. He has his name scattered throughout Carolina's record books, and he built the bulk of his Hall of Fame resume in a Panthers jersey.
But the Panthers cut him in 2014, and the split created an acrimonious relationship between him and the organization. The two sides are now three years removed from that decision, and Smith finished his career on a high note by playing three productive seasons with the Ravens, despite an Achilles injury.
"I think Steve did it in a Steve Smith way," Davis said. "He went out and just really showed the Panthers that they were wrong, that they gave up on him too soon. I was rooting for him the whole way – hated to see him go, was excited about what he was able to do in Baltimore."
In Smith's three seasons with the Ravens, he put up 2,534 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. He became a fan favorite in a new city, showed he still had juice left in his legs and topped 1,000 career receptions.
Now he's heading into retirement, and Davis believes Smith's career is definitely done. Plenty have speculated about whether Smith could be lured out of retirement – Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti even floated out that idea earlier this month – but Davis is confident Smith has played his last game.
"I've talked to him, and I think he's done this time," Davis said. "I think he can still come out and play this game. But for him to make that decision, I fully support it. I've looked up to Steve for a long time. Hats off to him for a hell of a career."