If you were to survey 100 random people and ask them what comes to mind when they think of something that ages well, it would be safe to say that an NFL wide receiver would not be at the top of that list.
Cheese and wine would certainly place near the top, but an NFL player, not so much. Now ask that same question to NFL defensive backs across the league and I’ll bet the majority wouldn’t hesitate at saying the name, Steve Smith.
In NFL terms, anything over the age of 30 is considered “over the hill”. This magic number appears to be the age where you see NFL players start to decline in their productivity. This is not the case for Mr. Smith. That’s because the five time Pro Bowler and two-time All Pro wide out who celebrated his 35th birthday this past May, still continues to perform at the league’s highest level.
Now a Baltimore Raven, Steve Smith Sr. was drafted in the third round of the 2001 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers. It was there he spent the next 13 seasons setting franchise records for receptions (836), yards (12,197) and touchdowns (67). This off season, Smith parted ways with the Panthers and signed a 3 year deal with the Ravens reportedly worth 11.5 million dollars.
Smith has started off the 2014 season in Baltimore with a bang for the Ravens and his fantasy team owners alike. It’s still early in the season but through his first two games with the Ravens, the 5’9”, 195lbs, receiver has 13 receptions, 189 yards and a touchdown. This puts him on pace for over 100 receptions, 1500 yards and 8 scores. These numbers would compete with his 2005 career best when he went for 103 receptions, 1563 yards and 12 touchdowns. At age 35 and on a new team, can Smith compete for leading NFL wide receiver in 2014? Possibly. One thing I do know, Smith Sr. has earned himself a spot on my fantasy football roster and into my weekly starting line up.
Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing – Oliver Wendell Holmes