OWINGS MILLS - Steve Smith has no desire to play until he’s 40 years old. Maybe he could. But Smith says he won’t, which means every season from this point is precious.
Smith turned 36 on May 12. But three things were clear watching the veteran wide receier work Thursday at Ravens’ OTA’s. He’s still in great shape. He still loves the game. And his hands are still like Velcro.
Afterward, a reporter asked if Smith ever thought about playing into his 40’s like a legendary wide receiver he admires, Jerry Rice. Smith shot down that notion.
“Jerry Rice is, obviously, the greatest wide receiver to ever play, and I really don’t have the family structure to chase 40, to be honest,” Smith said. “I have a lot of things on my “to do” list that don’t have anything to do with football. So, I’m going to take it day by day, but I will not be playing until, I’m 40.”
How well Smith plays for the Ravens in 2015 remains to be seen. But don’t expect a decline. He was their most productive receiver last year with 79 catches, 1,065 yards, six touchdowns. The Ravens drafted wide receiver Breshad Perriman in the first round, but until proven otherwise, Smith remains the go-to guy for quarterback Joe Flacco.
Smith could have chosen to skip Thursday’s OTA session. It wasn’t mandatory. He doesn’t need the reps.
Yet, Smith was where he wanted to be, still defying the odds as a 5-foot-9 wide receiver that plays much bigger. He knows people are looking for signs of decline, and that will keep him motivated to prove doubters wrong.
Asked when he started hearing questions about his age, Smith said, “Probably after the height questions stopped.”
However, nobody questions Smith’s passion for his craft. At age 26, he was one of the NFL’s best receivers. At age 36, Smith is still going strong.