Steve Smith Sr. will go down as one of the NFL's all-time great receivers. But in his 16 seasons, he's also been one of the league's all-time great talkers.
So it should come as no surprise that Smith was brilliant in the final postgame press conference of his career. The Ravens lost to the Bengals 27-10 in the season finale.
As soon as the final whistle blew, Smith had a CBS microphone in his face asking if the game would really be his last.
“Yeah, this is it," he said, stifling tears. “I got a beautiful wife at home, Angie, and four kids that need their dad. And I need my kids. I’m going home to Charlotte to be with my family. We’ve got a new house we’re going to build.
"I got a sophomore in college, a soon to be a junior daughter in high school, son in middle school and a two year old. I got a lot of catching up to do. This game has given me a lot, but at the same time, I need to give my family more.”
But, true to form, the 37-year-old wasn't serious for too long.
“I know I’m not going to miss practice, I can tell you that,” he quipped.
Once he got to the podium to answer questions, he was candid as ever.
“A little bit of relief. Playing this game and the expectations that are expected from you, it’s a lot of pressure," he said. "The pressure I’ll have now is getting the kids to school on time. Do I eat a pint of ice cream or a gallon of ice cream? Do I want to work out on the treadmill or the stair master? It’s going to be different but it’s something I look forward to."
He returned to a familiar theme: Not missing the grind of football life off the field.
“I’m going to miss these guys. I’m going to miss them. But when they’re in training camp and I’m not, I’m going to be hanging out at the pool. Doing a lot of other things. Go to Disneyland during September, I heard it’s really slow them with kids going back to school, so we’ll be able to ride some rides numerous times. A lot of things to look forward to, and also just being a dad. My kids miss me and I miss them.”
Disneyland and ice cream. Sounds like as good a retirement plan as any. But Ravens fans will be happy to hear Smith won't be a stranger in Baltimore.
"Me and guys have talked about taking some family vacations together. Coming back to Baltimore, going to games and stuff," he said. "I’m going to be myself and stop by."
"I’ll have a lot of things I can get to do with my boys. And coming back to Baltimore and seeing some games, seeing Joe throw touchdowns, it’ll be good. Mooch off some other guys that have mooched off me in their suites. Stuff like that [laughter]. I look forward to that."
Hmm, wonder who was mooching off Smith the past few seasons? I guess we'll find out in his first trip back.
But on a more sentimental note, Smith explained that he had some strategies to keep from crying. They start with ice cream (of course).
“A gallon of rocky road ice cream to be honest. I’m just trying not to get emotional," he said. “This morning my wife sent me a text. My family wasn’t here because if they were here, I would have lost it."
In perhaps the most poetic moment of his comments, Smith compared his career to a lifetime of driving on the Pacific Coast Highway. He took a moment this week to stop and appreciate the view.
"Very rarely have I pulled over and appreciated looking at the sunset with my wife, with my kids, with friends. That's what I did this week. It's emotional," he said.
It was emotional for everyone watching, too.
MORE RAVENS: 5 things I'll miss about covering Steve Smith Sr.