Steve Smith Sr. made his retirement official on Friday with a tremendous, albeit short retirement letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Here’s how the Baltimore Ravens and former Carolina Panthers receiver went out, clearly on his terms.
That Smith antagonized defensive backs throughout his stellar, and soon-to-be Hall of Fame career is an undeniable truth.
One of the game’s preeminent trash talkers, Smith had a chip on his shoulder the size of Mt. Everest, stemming from the fact that teams thought he was too small to be a legitimate receiver coming out of Utah. That was something he quickly proved as false. He more than often backed up his trash talk with tremendous performances, emerging as one of the most dangerous playmakers of his generation.
Selected in the third round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Panthers, Smith spent his first year in Carolina primarily as the team’s return man. He scored three special teams touchdowns that year and quickly moved into the lineup as a receiver in 2002.
Over the course of his career, Smith continued to torch opposing special teams units, finishing with six total return touchdowns. Eventually he stopped returning punts and kicks. His value as a pure receiver became too great to risk injury on special teams.
Smith finished his career as the No. 12 overall pass catcher, with 1,031 receptions. His 14,731 career receiving yards ranks No. 7 all time, and he fittingly ended his career with 89 total touchdowns, ranking No. 37 in NFL history.