Steve Smith's Interview, for the Panthers website was a quiet one by his standards. The title "Steve Smith: Hard lessons learned in 2012." could have well struck on a name for his biography "Hard Lessons learned." For all players of this game we love this time of the year is hard, particularly when the season is closer to the end of your time of fun than the beginning. He has spoken before of how short of time he has left in the game, but still there is a sadness in this short interview that really hit the fact home that Smitty may feel that his gas is running out. Just tid bit below.
MIke Craft : How anxious are you to get to 2013.
Steve Smith: Uhh not very anxious right now. Just kinda taking some time to ah rest. Ah you now older guys. Start looking at my opportunities ah, as things kinda dwindle down. You know ah, we believe we can play forever, but uh realistically uh that's a fantasy...
He does speak of recharging and we know that if he is on the field, whether game or in practice, he will have that competitive fire, but I wonder if this was the year were he really felt "IT." That moment were he could not break away or lose from a guy and the game that he has been outrunning his entire life has caught up. A wily player like him can hide much from opponents and even all seeing fans, can find the sweet spot in the seam of a defense that young eyes would have missed and younger legs overran, but he cannot hide from himself that which he now lacks. Namely time.
Jerry Rice played his heart out, and though he never had speed to begin with, he finished his career out on his heart and wiles alone. He kept in the best shape he possible could and kept on a going along. He moved teams to stay in the game when everyone thought he would retire a lifelong Niner.
Smitty could very well end up like that, yet I somehow doubt it. The same fire that gave and gives opponents and teammate fits demands more of himself than of anyone else. He is so passionate that I do not see him settling to be that situation player who only sees the field a few times a game. Then again, and this is why we love him, Steve Smith never stays to one mold or another. He has said he would like to be the number two guy, go out like Muhsin Muhammad, be a Ricky Proehl for someone. '
Steve's fierceness may keep him in the game much longer than even he believes, but he does not strike one as man that needs the game to define him either. He was red eyed and morose when cleaning out that locker. The end seems much near when you know how few beginnings are left for you... or us.
I for one am looking forward to seeing an all time great for as long as he chooses to play a game in away so few have. I would love to see him tearing teams up as a third down receiver, giving teams nightmares on crossing routs and quick slants.
Soon, a couple seasons I believe, Smith's contract will be up. Do you want to seem retire on top or try and milk every last ounce of time he can out of the game. There is no doubt that he could be effective on the field for more than just a few more years and more than just a role player. Years that will inevitable affect his physical well being later on. The ultimate decision is his of course but as fans what do you want?