Remember What Happened Last Time A Player Retired Like This?
Boy, for a guy who was supposed to be a "locker room distraction," Steve Smith Sr. sure is a popular guy with his Ravens teammates. And he's only been in town for a year.
They love him so much that they're rallying around him with Ray Lewis "last ride" type treatment.
Read what Terrell Suggs, one of Lewis' best friends when he was on the team, had to say after Smith announced he will retire following his 15th NFL season.
"Remember what happened the last time we had a player like this retire?" Suggs asked The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
Why, yes, Suggs, we do remember.
It was January 2, 2013. Lewis said it would be his last ride just four days before the Ravens started their magical Super Bowl XLVII run against the Indianapolis Colts in the wild-card round. It ended with Lewis lifting the Lombardi Trophy with confetti falling on his smiling face.
Why do you bring that up?
"Steve Smith is one hell of a guy and maybe we can send him out with something special," Suggs said.
There was certainly something special in the air at the Under Armour Performance Center Monday.
The Ravens already knew they were Super Bowl contenders. They were already busting their butts with that in mind. But there's nothing like the intangible energy that is born of selflessly playing for a teammate. That selflessness begets sacrifice, chemistry and teamwork. It could be the difference that pushes them past other Super Bowl contenders.
Suggs wasn't the only wanting to play that way for his good buddy.
"He has had a great career," team leader Joe Flacco told Zrebiec. "I think it is awesome to spend time with him at the end of his career and to see if we can win it for him going out."
Said wide receiver Marlon Brown: "I don't want to be the guy who stands in the way of his dream, going to the Super Bowl. I'm going to go out there and practice and play to the best of my ability, not just for me and the team, but for Steve."
Smith downplayed the idea of ending his career with a Super Bowl ring. He says that's not what he's chasing, and it won't define his career. But, come on, who wouldn't want to ride into the sunset with Hall of Fame production, topped off with shiny new hardware?
We know what Smith wants. His teammates know what he wants.
"I'm pretty sure a Super Bowl is on his mind," receiver Kamar Aiken said. "I know he would like to at least have a Super Bowl before he retires, but we'll definitely try to give him the best opportunity for it."
Smith said he is retiring so he can focus on being a father. His wife, Angie, and four children decided to keep their lives in Charlotte while Smith moved to Baltimore to play with the Ravens. His oldest son, Peyton, is expected to play college soccer next year and his youngest, Steve Jr., just turned 1 year old. His daughter had emergency surgery over the weekend and Smith missed practice to fly down to be with her.
And while Smith certainly wants to be a more present father and husband, he also wants to say goodbye while he's still at the top of his game. He is doing just that as the unquestioned No. 1 receiver, nabbing 30 more receptions in 2014 than the next highest Raven.
"He's certainly earned the right to go out on his own terms," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.
That's what he can control. He won't hold on too long. He won't be pushed out the door. He's got too much pride for that.
But football is a *team *sport. He can't single-handedly bring a trophy back to Baltimore.
But from the sounds of it, he's all in. And so are his teammates. That's a scary thought.
Panthers Still Look Distracted
By the way, the Panthers aren't looking like a team with better camaraderie* *after cutting "locker room distraction" Smith last year.
During training camp practice yesterday, quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Josh Norman got into a scuffle after Newton tackled his teammate, who was returning an interception.
"The thing that we preach to the defense is that they score," Head Coach Ron Rivera told reporters, per ESPN. "And so, even though I blew the whistle, Josh kept going like he's taught and the offense continued to react.
"What happened was Cam got stiff-armed in the helmet, and that's where that escalated. The big thing we have to understand is: 'Hey, you're going to get stiff-armed. You've just got to handle it.'"
Ravens May Have 5 Future Hall of Famers On Roster
"It's not that crazy," The Sun's Alexander Pyles tweeted.
The Ravens 2015 roster actually might have five future Hall of Fame players. Even if they all don't get in, it's bananas to even think Baltimore has five guys who you could debate.
Here are the five and why, per Pyles:
WR Steve Smith Sr.Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. might be the most obvious future Hall of Famer on the Ravens' roster. He's entering his 15th NFL season with 915 receptions, 13,262 yards and 73 touchdowns. It might be a lot to ask of a 36 year old, but Smith would become the 11th player in league history with 1,000 career receptions if he can manage 85 catches in 2015, six more than he did in his first season with the Ravens. Just don't expect him, if inducted, to enter the Hall of Fame in purple; Smith spent his first 13 seasons with the Carolina Panthers.
OLB Terrell SuggsLinebacker Terrell Suggs has a Super Bowl ring, was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2003 and Defensive Player of the Year in 2011. Will that, plus his 106.5 (and counting) sacks in 12 seasons earn him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. … The 32 year old is 24th on the all-time sacks list and would need to play at a high level for at least another two seasons to break into the top 10. That just might be doable.
OLB Elvis DumervilThis is a stretch for right now, but Elvis Dumervil is more than a year younger than Suggs and has just 16.5 fewer sacks. He's also shown the ability to compile them in bunches. … If he and Suggs stay healthy, they could help each other climb that list, and potentially bolster their Hall of Fame resumes.
G Marshal YandaAfter just seven seasons and four Pro Bowl berths, it certainly seems early to proclaim Yanda a future Hall of Famer. … He's already earned the mantle of best Ravens offensive lineman not named Jonathan Ogden (the franchise's first-and-so-far-only Hall of Famer). Not bad for a guy who was the 86th overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft.
QB Joe Flacco
This is not a continuation of the bogus is-Joe-Flacco-elite conversation. It's a nod to the eighth-year quarterback's consistency. He consistently stays healthy. He consistently wins football games. He consistently throws for more than 3,000 yards and somewhere around 20 touchdowns each season. … If he reaches 40,000 career yards and 300 touchdowns -- or wins another Super Bowl -- Flacco's resume will look pretty good.
Should Billick Go In Ring Of Honor?
Baltimore is still buzzing after former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick visited as an NFL analyst last week. He delivered a speech to the team, telling them they are one of only six teams that truly can be considered Super Bowl contenders.
It was under Billick that the young Ravens franchise brought home its first Lombardi Trophy in just their fifth year of existence. He was a central figure in building the organization's reputation into what it is today – a perennial playoff contender.
Because of his massive role in Ravens history, WBAL radio's Brett Hollander thinks Billick should eventually make it into the Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium.
Not a bad idea.
- "[Darren] Waller, a rookie sixth-round NFL draft pick who's not exactly known as a speed merchant, smoked cornerback Lardarius Webb on a deep sideline route that saw Waller get a few steps on Webb before Webb pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury," wrote Jon Meoli. "Waller did well to adjust to a slight underthrow from Flacco and jogged in for a touchdown." [The Baltimore Sun]
- Hit of the day: "During seven on seven run drills, rookie tight end Nick Boyle pancake blocked outside linebacker Steven Means at the line of scrimmage to open up a huge running lane for Lorenzo Taliaferro," wrote Brian Bower. "After the block, Means quickly rolled on top of Boyle and words were exchanged. On the very next play, Boyle again had a solid block on Means." [Russell Street Report]
- Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham reportedly suffered a torn ACL in Sunday's preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. He will have to undergo surgery to repair his knee, and will likely be placed on injured reserve for the season. "[This] leaves Pittsburgh searching for a new kicker to do his job in tough venue," wrote Adam Schefter. [ESPN]
- In a light moment during Monday pressers, Harbaugh said he wants to get out of the injury reporting business. "I've found that it's impossible to give you any idea when guys are going to be back, OK?" Harbaugh said with a laugh. "I've been wrong on every single guy so far, and I just want you to know — for the fans out there — I repeat what I'm told by the medical people. I'm not doing any diagnoses here. I'm not doing any examinations. … I tell you what they tell me. I'm better off getting out of that business. I'll say something, and then the opposite thing will happen, and [people] will all think I'm being less than truthful." [The Baltimore Sun] //