The retirement of Titans wide receiver Andre Johnson on Monday ended a great career. By contrast, it also amplified the greatness of Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr.
Johnson had enough of football at age 35, which is understandable. But Smith is two years older at age 37.
Johnson is 10th on the NFL’s all-time list for receiving yards with 14,185. Smith is just ahead of Johnson in ninth place with 14,242 yards, and needs just 253 more yards to pass Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison for seventh place all-time in receiving yards.
Smith put his body through plenty to recover from last year’s torn Achilles injury, and he has missed the last two games with a sprained ankle. He is expected to retire after this season, and after 16 seasons, he has nothing left to prove.
Yet, even after missing the last two games, Smith has more catches this season (27) than any Ravens except tight end Dennis Pitta (38) and wide receiver Mike Wallace (35). Whenever Smith returns to the lineup, whether it be Sunday against the Steelers or later this month, the Ravens will be elevated not only by Smith’s talent, but by his emotion. Smith plays with the same fire he did at age 37 as he did at 27.
Johnson made a quiet exit from the game Monday, with no statement or interviews. That was his style. Smith still has plenty to say, and more plays to make. The sooner he gets back for the slumping Ravens (3-4), the better.
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