Panthers coach Ron Rivera thinks Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr. should retire with Carolina. Hmm what now?
Ok, so maybe this isn't as presumptuous as it sounds considering the 37-year-old played 13 of his 16 seasons as a Panther.
Here's what Rivera said, via ESPN.
"[Retiring as a Panther is] up to Steve. I think he should, though. Think of all the years he played here. But it’s up to him."
Smith holds every major receiving record for the Panthers' franchise. But after quarterback Cam Newton arrived, the strain of two outsized personalities contributed to Carolina releasing Smith.
The decision didn't sit well with Smith, obviously, and he promised there would be "blood and guts everywhere" when he faced his former team for the first time. He torched the Panthers in that matchup, catching seven passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
Three years later and contemplating the end of a storied career, perhaps hard feelings have softened on both sides.
"He’s a dynamic, fiery player that plays every play the way it should be played," Rivera said. "That’s probably the biggest thing about him that I remember, how hard he played the game, how much he wanted to win."
That's also what makes Smith the perfect Raven. He embodies the bold, hard-knock philosophy of Baltimore's franchise. And he said as much himself.
"When I look in the defensive meeting room and I see, 'Play like a Raven,' 'Baltimore Ravens: We build bullies,' that's what I'm talking about," Smith said to CSN in 2014.
"When I think of a Baltimore Raven, what I think of is you go in there, we take your lunch box, we take your sandwich, we take your juice box, we take your applesauce and we take your spork and we break it. And we leave you with an empty lunch. That's the Baltimore Raven way, that's the bully way and that's football."
The Baltimore fans have shown Smith a lot of love, which he has returned in kind.
View this post on Instagram
👉🏻 #Repost @aceandsmitty: There is so much too say, One of the coolest and scariest things I've done is walk out on faith hoping a new city and a new team would accept me. You guys didn't accept me. You loved me and let me into the #RavensFlock family for that I'm grateful! I embraced the Raven way! Tough season highs and lows but we will not give up or play dead! One more Game, The game of heart ,No quit. Merry Christmas God is good all the time in a loss he is the same and in Victory. #agent89 #stevesmithsr
If he decides to go out as a Panther instead of a Raven, it'll be tough – almost as tough as he is.
MORE RAVENS: Suggs disagrees with losing for a better draft pick