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Former New York Giants Teammates “Shocked” by the Retirement of Steve Smith

May 31st, 2013 at 9:30 AM
By Dan Benton

Once upon a time, rookie wide receiver Steve Smith was holding up a Super Bowl trophy and was poised to become the favorite target of quarterback Eli Manning. He would then go on to set the single-season franchise record with 107 receptions, prompting the team to offer him a five-year, $35-million contract extension. He turned it down and that's when everything went wrong.

A knee injury limited him to only nine games in 2010, and cost him the massive contract Big Blue had been offering. Still, General Manager Jerry Reese wanted Smith back with the team and attempted to re-sign him. Instead, only one day after leaving a meeting with the Giants, he chose to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles without giving his former team a chance to match the offer.

Unfortunately, his knee couldn't hold up and three years later, after stints with the Eagles, St. Louis Rams and, most recently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith decided it was time to retire.

“I’ve been blessed to play the game that I love at the highest level for the past six years,” Smith said. “I will always cherish my time with the New York Giants and our Super Bowl victory in 2007. I also want to thank the Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers organizations for the opportunities they gave me. This was not an easy decision, but it’s the right decision for me at this time.”

The decision to hang them up came as a shock to many, including several of his former teammates. Both Aaron Ross, who was drafted in 2007 along with Smith, and Terrell Thomas, who played with Smith at USC, were floored when they heard the news.

“Shocking,” Thomas said of Smith’s retirement. “I think he’s just a competitor that may have realized that with his knee he would never be the same and I think he probably just didn’t want to cause any more damage to it. Nobody knows the extent to his knee or where he’s at mentally and that’s the biggest thing. If mentally you’re not into it, I think it’s hard. This is his third team in three years. It’s hard to keep wanting to fight back at that position.”

The luxury Smith has — a luxury most athletes miss out on — is that he gets to retire with a ring. And no matter what else happens in his life, there's no one that can take that away. It's something Aaron Ross believes may have made the decision to walk away a bit easier.

“It’s a shocker,” Ross said. “I definitely hate to hear that, especially since we came in together and won a Super Bowl together. I’m kind of speechless. I wish he could have played a little longer, but seven years in this league is a very, very long time. What’s the league average [career]? Like three-and-a-half years. So he’s well over that. He has a Super Bowl ring and a ton of catches here. I’m pretty sure he’s happy, especially if he made that decision. I’m sure he made the best decision for himself.”

Like Tiki Barber however, it's unlikely that this generation of Giants fans will ever forgive him. Leading up to him signing with the Eagles, Smith repeatedly interacted with fans, expressed his desire to return to Big Blue and even took repeated potshots at the Eagles. And then, in an instant, that all changed and so did the perception of him.

Despite it all, there's no denying that his catch and run on 3rd-and-11 in Super Bowl XLII was the most overlooked key play of the game and, without it, the Giants may never have won.

photo credit: Chris Pusateri Photography via photopin cc

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Tags: Aaron Ross, Eli Manning, Football, Jerry Reese, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis, St. Louis Rams, Steve Smith, Terrell Thomas

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8 Responses to “Former New York Giants Teammates “Shocked” by the Retirement of Steve Smith”

  1.  demo3356 says:

    Sad as he was one of my Favorite players when he was here. my sadness is tempered a little by his Benedict Arnold move he pulled by jumping to our arch rivals.. I remember at the time there were a few of us making the point of what a a bad idea it was to let the Eagles hack medical staff put him right on the field when our staff was going to PUP him and let him take his time healing up. Just another example of how the giants organization treats players right and the Eagles treat their guys like a piece of meat..

    •  GOAT56 says:

      This one isn’t on the Eagles. This is all on Smith. He choose a new place and played on a 1 year deal. So what incentive did they have to look out for his long term health? That was obvious to a few of us. They were going to be more risky and hope he recovered. If he didn’t it was no skin off their back. Even if he sat out the year if he proved healthy he would have gotten a decent deal. Playing like he did was the worse thing that he could do.

      But I do feel bad that his career basically ended because this whole ordeal. I was hoping he ended up like Andre Brown and just took a few years to fully recover.

      •  demo3356 says:

        ok… Giants Dr’s look at him and say he needs to be held out for 6 months and go on PUP, Eagles dr’s say your fine go play and guy is never the same. Anyone who watched him in 2011 on the Eagles knew he wasnt right. This is not new with the Eagles medical staff.. BTW Stewart Bradley says hi as he stumbles around still looking for the Eagles sideline

  2.  GOAT56 says:

    Repost:

    GOAT56 says:
    May 30, 2013 at 10:33 PM
    Norm I don’t get the big difference between Cruz not being under contract because he wont sign a tender and Nicks situation. They both have no leverage other than holding out so what’s the difference. I know Nicks can get fined for holding out but Cruz doesn’t get paid either. The Giants don’t have to do anything with either player.

    Greg Jennings signed a 5 year, 47 mil deal. He’s turning 30, was injured and finished with 366 yards. Mike Wallace signed a 5 year 60 mil deal, played in 15 games and finished with 836 yards. The point is Nicks 692 yards while clearly playing injured doesn’t hurt his value as much as some think. Is he maximizing his value coming off of 2012? Of course not but over 4 years we have a clear understanding of who Nicks is as a player.

    Nicks could very well be sitting out just to be safe but his contract situation now that Cruz can’t sign an offer sheet isn’t all that different.

    Reply
    Dirt says:
    May 30, 2013 at 10:44 PM
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Cruz get zero dollars and zero cents for holding out, as he doesn’t have a contract, vis a vis a salary for Nicks?

    •  GOAT56 says:

      The only reason Cruz gets zero dollars is because he’s refusing to sign his tender. In theory he could sign his tender and still negotiate a long term deal. I’m not saying Cruz is wrong for not signing the tender from a negotiation viewpoint but how is that so different than Nicks’ situation?

  3.  GOAT56 says:

    Repost:

    Nosh.0 says:
    May 30, 2013 at 10:59 PM
    I’m ready to put my chips on the table. A G.M.’s job is to find guys and pay them based on their current and future value to the team. So I’m just gonna go ahead and say it. Cruz is presently more valuable than Hakeem Nicks. And he projects as a better future value than Nicks as well.

    I’m saying Cruz gets more $$$ than #88. 55 and GOAT, lets work out some sort of wager we can place on this.

    Reply
    Dirt says:
    May 30, 2013 at 11:02 PM
    More from the Giants or more from anyone?

    Reply
    Nosh.0 says:
    May 30, 2013 at 11:10 PM
    Good call. If either hit UFA, the $$$ amount will be a lot bigger. So we’ll say from the Giants.

    Reply
    Dirt says:
    May 30, 2013 at 11:13 PM
    OK you’re in.

    I’m usually quick to offer an opinion but I can’t call this race. Going to be interesting.

    Reply
    Nosh.0 says:
    May 30, 2013 at 11:17 PM
    Here’s the only way I figure to lose. Nicks has a monster season and gets franchised or locked up long term to slightly more $$$ than Cruz.

    Krow hit the nail on the head. Nicks has no leverage right now. Unless he’s willing to take a discount, there is no reason for the Giants to pay him big $$$ before the season. Not after the 2012 he had with injuries.

    It very well could be a one year blip, or the start of a more serious decline which we’ve seen over and over in the NFL. Star players suddenly are not stars. It’s not a slow fade like baseball.

    So my feeling is that Cruz gets his long term deal over the summer and Nicks is told he’s gotta show he’s still a star if he wants to get paid.

    Reply

    •  GOAT56 says:

      You’re right about a GM’s job but wrong about your assessment. Nicks is more proven and is younger and is a classic #1 WR. Cruz is a great slot WR and a decent outside WR who can make amazing plays but struggling when forced to be a #1 WR. Even with injuries and Cruz was on IR, I know it was BS but he was going to miss time that hamstring injury. Nicks is not KP, his injury is not debilitating. Nicks actually showed a lot by trying to fight through that injury and clearly playing as a shell of himself. Many WRs wouldn’t do that. I don’t hold that against him at all.

      Cruz could easily get a long term deal this summer. But that won’t be at Nicks money. Nicks might wait because at worse he will get franchised which is 10 mil plus.

      Anyway, we can definitely bet. I say a full 3-4 paragraph long post addressing why you were wrong on your assessment.

  4.  giankees says:

    Reese did another good job here. He let him go knowing that his knee was going to be an issue when everyone was upset about losing him. This is not too different from phillips, reese plays it close to the vest on injuries and wont pay much more than a min for players that major problems. Tt seemed to be the one exception but he def had a fall back on the contract if he couldnt play. Actually he stuck with hixon also but def seema to make the right decisions when it comes to injuries

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