The Super Bowl plays – are those the ones that you think stand out the most to you and forever will? (Ryan Mink)
Smith: "They'll be the ones that probably go down in history the most, but no, there are plenty of plays I can think of that I loved that happened in all kinds of games."
What ultimately went into your decision to finally retire? (Jamison Hensley)
Smith: "Ultimately, my body. I've been through too many injuries, and I always had a sense of [feeling] like I'm always trying to get back to even. You're coming off an Achilles, you're coming off a Lisfranc, you go right into there, and it's not like I get to go against No. 3 all the time; it's like, I'm going against the top guy. So, it was always an uphill climb for me to – especially coming fresh off of an injury – trying to get back to just being who I was before it. And that was a battle early on, but later as it gets, it becomes much tougher, and my body kept doing it. Then I get that freaking ankle injury last year, and it was just like, 'I'm kind of over just having to battle back constantly.'"
With that in mind, how much pride do you take in being on a pretty short list as far as longevity with the Ravens. You played 11 seasons, and there aren't many guys who played longer for the Ravens. How much pride do you take in that – understanding what you went through with so many challenges? (Luke Jones)
Smith: "I take tremendous pride. I know it's a little bit of them [head coach John Harbaugh and executive vice president & general manager Eric DeCosta] believing in me, as well. They could have easily been like, 'You know what? This guy is hurt. I'm done.' But they stuck with me and showed me, as a man, like, 'OK, they're being loyal to you; you come out here and bust your butt [and] do whatever you can do to get back on the field,' and that was always my mentality – was like, 'I just want to get back on the field, get back on the field, get back on the field.' So, yes, I do take major pride in the fact that I played for one organization forever. It shows just the loyalty; being a Leo, that's how we thrive – we like that." (laughter)
At the end of last year, you mentioned talking to T Alejandro Villanueva coming off of the field after the last game, and he was wistful about that being the end of his career. Did you know then or appreciate then that, that might be the last time you play, as well? Or had you not thought that? (Bo Smolka)
Smith: "No, I definitely thought about it, for sure, but it wasn't necessarily … I can't say that I was necessarily sure until this moment exactly right now, when you're actually retired. (laughter) I didn't think I'd get all emotional about it and all that, and then I see this video this morning, and I'm like 'Wah, wah – what the heck?' (imitating crying)You don't know. But I'm very proud of my career. I'm very proud that I had to battle back. Obviously … He [executive vice president & general manager Eric DeCosta] had a speech the other night at one of our main guy's, [director of player development] O.J. [Brigance's], birthday, and he kind of compared life and football as the same. And it's like, no matter what happens, things just happen. Life just happens. And for me and my career, I had never been injured until I got to the NFL. So, once I finally get to the dream job, all of a sudden, adversity hits every single way. My first play – as you remember – my first play in the NFL was somebody falling on my ankle and [me] getting a high ankle sprain, and I didn't know then, but that would be kind of what I would go through for years – just injuries and battling back. So, I'm very proud of the fact that I got to stay here. They believed in me. I know it's both ways; it takes my talent and who I am, and it also takes their belief in me to get it done. But yes, definitely, one of the things I'm most proud of is the fact that I made it this far at one organization."
Was there a point in your career when you just decided that this was going to be the only place you played for? I'm sure you had calls from different teams in recent offseasons? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Smith: "After my second contract ended was when I had the most interest, I guess. I tried to like flaunt it a little bit, so they'd give me some more; they didn't care, but they also knew. (laughter) Like, 'Sure, but here's what you're going to get.' (laughter)'I'll take it today.' But yes, like I said, it's a big thing for me to have been here. I watched players go and … I probably have the Draft class that might go down in Hall of Fame history; we had so many great players, and every single one of them played for another team now, and I'm kind of happy that I'm the one that stuck it out. I don't know … It shows a lot to me – the commitment, just the focus that I had to have to be on one team. And also thinking … A lot of players always feel, 'Hey, I can go get a lot more money over here.' And for me, it wasn't necessarily money; I wanted to be with family and comfortable and be around people that loved me and knew who I was. So, I never really thought, 'Oh, I'm about to go out here and …' And no disrespect to the Browns again – they get mad at me about this – but I wasn't about to go play for some random Browns. I wasn't about to go do something like that." (laughter)
For CB Jimmy Smith and head coach John Harbaugh: You guys have both talked in recent years about the bond that you've built up over the years. Obviously, that doesn't always happen in this league, because, as you mentioned Jimmy, most guys switch teams. Why do you think that ultimately worked as well at it did? (Childs Walker)
Smith: "I think that when you have a good coach, he should be a great mentor, and the players should follow. If you're a good coach, your players look up to you, and [head coach John] Harbaugh, obviously, epitomizes that. He showed me more … Just kind of even based on the story that he told you a minute ago about the whole Super Bowl situation; it's like he knew these things, and I didn't believe in them, but he believed in it, he believed in me. And Coach [Harbaugh] is very honest; he'll come up and tell you immediately what you did wrong, or he'll text you, 'Play 47 – you did this.' Like, he's that guy." (Head coach John Harbaugh: "The DBs are laughing." – laughter)"But the relationship was … In the very beginning, you're just getting to know your coach – he's the coach. Then all of a sudden, as you get older, you become more of a man and you understand the business and they trust you, then the bond becomes stronger, because now you can talk about life. When I was going through some of the off-the-field issues I had, we would just talk about that; we didn't even talk about football – and we'd have a big game coming up that week. He would make sure that my mind was ready, period, in life, then necessarily always football. And when you have a coach that's a really good coach, like I said, he's a mentor, [and] you want to follow that. So, a lot of the things that I came in here and he preached week-in and week-out for 11 years that some of the young players are like, 'Oh, that's cool …' I've been hearing this forever, but now it's engrained in me, and it's part of who I am, it's part of what helped me mature to become a man."
Is there something that you're looking forward to now with all your free time and everything? (Melissa Kim)
Smith: "No. (laughter)No, no. I get to spend a lot of time with the kids, but they're in school now, so now it's just me and Lindsay in the house staring at each. (laughter) I play a lot of Saints Row right now. (laughter)No, not a lot going on right now."
What has it been like for you to watch the games? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Smith: "It's hard. It's hard, because I want to win, and I still feel like I'm a part of the team – you know? Like I'm still there. I'm still in the room, like, 'Are you freaking kidding me?' It's actually more anxious now to watch a game then it used to be to play it, because at least I had something that had to do with an outcome. But now, I just want to … I don't know. I love watching them play; I want to see them win. I'm out here telling Lindsay every play, like, 'Look, you see that? You see this? You know what that signal is. They're about to play … It's four-by-one; watch the screen right here.' (laughter)I'm like that. My brain still clicks in that way."
What part of the game do you think was the hardest for you to retire from and that you'll miss the most? (Ryan Mink)
Smith: "I'll tell you; it wasn't the physicality. (laughter)But the hardest part of the game … Honestly, it's really the brotherhoods, the friendships that you make. Like I said, you get good coaches; you get [pass game coordinator/secondary coach] Chris [Hewitt], you get [head coach John] Harbaugh. You get these people that are in your life, and it's like, I'm so used to being in this locker room with people and chopping it up and having fun and all this, and then all of a sudden, it's just gone. And that part is a little bit different. Obviously, I'm going to come around a lot more and start being around. But it's the camaraderie, the memories you make, the big wins. The flights home from big wins are something I'll always miss. Those are just epic. You get that win, you have a nice time on the plane, and it's excellent."
We've seen how injuries can be a big drag on somebody's career. But when CB Jimmy Smith got himself to a point to being healthy at the end of his career, what did it say about him as a player that he was still one of the better cornerbacks? (Jonas Shaffer)
Harbaugh: "Oh, yes. You have to overcome that. And the guys that you kind of start learning … We have guys like that sitting in this row right here. But guys that want to be on the field … Jimmy [Smith] wanted to be on the field. He was going to find a way to get himself out there one way or another. And right to the very end, that's the thing that you always appreciated. He was a football player, and football players want to play football, and I was happy when he was out there – I can tell you that. And even if he wasn't 100% all the time, his 80% or 90% was better than mostly every other guy's 100%. That says a lot."
What do you want Ravens fans to remember about your time in Baltimore? (Kyle Baber)
Smith: "That's very difficult to answer. I don't know, I just want to be remembered as the type of player that I was, obviously. I know I went through a lot of injuries, and I wasn't always there to suit up, but I want them to remember the type of player that I was when I was out there, what I brought to the team. I'm a jokester, I like to have fun, I like to kid and be too candid at times. Ultimately, I just want them to remember like … Championship!" (flashes Super Bowl XLVII ring)(laughter)
You brought up your upbringing and how it took you some time to mature. How fulfilling is it to know that you made mistakes but were still able to win a Super Bowl and ultimately sit here and retire on your own terms? (Cordell Woodland)
Smith:"The life progression has been tough, but one that I can look back and be proud of because I needed every one of those things to happen to me for me to become who I am today, for me to become the dad that I am, the husband that I am. All those things had to happen, so obviously, I wish I could regret some of them and not have it happen, but without those instrumental things happening to me, I don't think that I would be the man that I am today."
Harbaugh:"If I could just interject one thing, one story, we talked about this the other night: Jimmy, I don't know if you remember this, but when Jimmy came in for the visit, there were a lot of reports about him. It was nothing big, it was just kind of little stuff here and there, like he said, immature-type stuff, but there was a notebook. [Ravens Owner] Steve Bisciotti put a notebook together of these different scout's reports and things like that that were like the red flags or the orange flags that Jimmy was talking about. One thing Steve told me, and you told me he said to you was, 'This is the story right now. When you retire at the end of your career, there's going to be a new notebook. What's it going to say? What's going to be in it?' I get kind of goosebumps thinking about that right now, the story that you've written these past 11 years, is something really to be proud of."
Smith:"That makes me a little emotional."
How big was it for you to be joining this organization during the time that Ed Reed and Ray Lewis were wrapping up their careers? (David Andrade)
Smith:"I'm blessed just to have been their teammates for two years and win the Super Bowl with them. They taught us a lot. When I first got here, I was telling 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh], when I first got here, we had so many veterans and veteran leadership that 'Harbs' didn't really have to say a lot. The guys already knew what to do, how to get it done. He ran the team, but they made sure that things were done the right way. Then, it kind of moved over time, and Harbaugh started taking over … I forgot your question, to be honest." (laughter)
Harbaugh:"These guys are great leaders."
(Reporter: "How impactful was it to play with Ed Reed and Ray Lewis?")
Smith:"Like I said, it was just dope to be around Hall of Famers. Like, Ed Reed was my safety. He got me beat on that one play…"
Harbaugh:"I remember." (laughter)
Smith:"Quick story, I think you'll remember this, too. Quick story, is Ed Reed is the man, number one. Two is we played DeSean Jackson at Philadelphia, the day that Bernard Pollard got his ribs broken. We played them, Philadelphia, and Ed is freaking smart. He knows everything that's coming; he sees the cuts by DeSean, he says, 'Double move.' He looks at me [and] he goes, 'Hey! Bite on it.' And I'm like, 'OK.' And DeSean runs a terrible double move, like to the point where I had to fake it; I kind of like whipped at it, and he ends up taking it up the sideline. Ed spins, and he's like literally one step away from the pick. DeSean catches it, I'm like diving. I just looked up, and I looked straight at him. I looked at him, and he's on the sideline like, 'Bring your ass here now.' I was like, 'Ah, what happened?' (laughter)I guess that's not the best Ed Reed story, but they were great players."
What does it mean to you to have this moment at your retirement announcement with your teammates and family? (Garrett Downing)
Smith:"It's huge, it's something I never really thought about, to be honest. To be able to retire as a Raven, for you guys to even come out and ask me questions about it, like most people just hit the Facebook quote, and I'm done and that's it. (laughter)So, this is huge, but this also shows you what type of organization is here, what type of organization they have. They truly love their players, they really care about it, and they set this up for this."
When you reminisce on your career, who did you line up across from that you most enjoyed your battles against? (Kyle Barber)
Smith: "I enjoyed my battles against Antonio Brown the most, but everyone in our division. Good battles are good battles, it depends on the day. It could be some scout team guy that just got brought up that is giving me the work today because that's the day. I just enjoyed competing. I was more of a competitor than anything else. There were just days where you'd have the best day of all time, and then there were days where, 'Woah, things are not going my way.' DeAndre Hopkins, [on] Monday Night was like that."