Ravens’ Smith coy on fu­ture

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Owings Mills, Mary­land

Steve Smith sounds like a man who’s ready to close the door on an NFL ca­reer that has spanned 16 sea­sons and taken him well be­yond his 37 th birthday.

“Whether you want to or not, you’ve got to move on,” Smith said on Wed­nes­day. “It’s part of life. The world still turns.”

The five-time Pro Bowl re­ceiver will play in his 230th NFL game on Sun­day when the Bal­ti­more Ravens wrap up their sea­son against the Cincin­nati Bengals.

Stand­ing in front of the me­dia wear­ing a Darth Vader cos­tume, Smith said he’s “about 89 per­cent sure” it will mark the end of his stel­lar ca­reer.

He used that num­ber be­cause he wears No 89.

Though Smith spoke with deep emo­tion dur­ing his 10-minute ses­sion, he did not for­mally an­nounce his re­tire­ment. He al­ready did that once be­fore, prior to the 2015 sea­son, but ended up chang­ing his mind af­ter tear­ing his Achilles ten­don in Week 7.

This time, when asked about his fu­ture be­yond Sun­day, Smith said: “Foot­ball has given me more than I prob­a­bly can give back. For 2016-17 and be­yond, it’s prob­a­bly my last game.”

Prob­a­bly? Pressed for some­thing more de­fin­i­tive, Smith said, “Just let it be, bro.”

A minute later, Smith told of a sym­bolic mes­sage he re­ceived dur­ing prac­tice.

“To­day was pretty emo­tional out on the field,” he said. “It was windy, and parts of the field were frozen. The sun was shin­ing. It was con­fir­ma­tion to­day. God winked at me.”

Smith broke into the league in 2001 with Carolina and played with the Pan­thers for 13 sea­sons be­fore com­ing to Bal­ti­more in 2014.

A feisty com­peti­tor with an enor­mous drive to win, Smith has a knack for draw­ing praise from his team­mates and ire from those who go up against him.

“There’s not a lot guys that you look down a dark al­ley and say ‘I want to bring this per­son with me,’” Carolina quar­ter­back Cam New­ton said on Wed­nes­day.

“But Steve Smith is one of those guys that you bet­ter make sure is on your team, and not against your team. I have seen both of them, and I would pre­fer him be­ing on my team.”

Steve Smith

2004 Madi­son)

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