OWINGS MILLS – Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. fought back tears Thursday as he talked about why he decided to return, instead of retire, after rupturing his Achilles last season.
It was obvious that Smith remains driven to play football, passionate about playing for the Ravens, and determined to silence those who doubt he can still be an elite player at 37 years old.
“I really came back, not to set any records, (but) because this organization gave me an opportunity,” Smith said. “When I got hurt, I felt like I let those guys down in the locker room. So for me to come back and play, it just showed them that I am dependable.
“And it showed you jack—es that at 37 years old, I can still play. I’m sick of y’all, ‘How can you depend on a 37-year-old to play this game after a ruptured Achilles?’ We’ll see. I rehabbed for nine months while y’all were sitting around twiddling your thumbs. I intend to lay everything out.”
Smith stopped short of saying that 2016 would definitely be his last season, but his contract expires after the season. His main focus is on enjoying the year, and playing every game like it’s his last.
“I’m not in this business to make friends,” Smith said. “If you’re not in the same jersey as me, I’m going to rip you to shreds. Bottom line.
“We’re going to have fun and smile. I’ll probably smile more in these last couple of months than I have in my whole career. I’ll still be hated in every city. I still enjoy that.
“Contractually, this is my last year. I’m just going to play ball.”
Smith admitted that several times during rehab he wondered if he would make it back to the field.
“Probably about two or three times where I really felt like, ‘Man I’m done with this,”’ Smith said. “You’re going to see guys more and more, in the offseason I believe, retiring. To work out to look good on the beach is easy. To run and play football at a high level, physically fit? Man, that’s a requirement I think a lot of people don’t understand. Once you get older, your body does not respond the way it used to.”
But Smith still responds to doubters as strongly as ever. So regardless of what Smith does in 2016, it’s clear he intends to give everything he has left.