“Once a Raven, always a Raven.”
That’s an age-old adage around these parts, and tends to come into play when 1) a drafted Raven leaves via free agency, 2) a former Raven is again a free agent and fits a need in Baltimore, or 3) a fan favorite retires after time spent wearing the black and purple.
While I tend to let the ‘get off my lawn’ old man mentality get the best of me in regards to this expression (why doesn’t it apply for 5-year Raven Kyle Boller, but it does for 3-year Raven Anquan Boldin?) I’ve recently been reminded of what the true meaning of the expression is through none other than Steve Smith Sr.
Indeed, the recently retired ‘Smitty’ spent a mere three seasons in Baltimore after 13 in Carolina (THIRTEEN!), yet despite what was nothing more than a pit stop in his long, illustrious career in the NFL, he continues to give back and contribute to the Ravens, even after retirement.
Over the past few weeks of minicamps and OTA’s, as much as Smith Sr’s name has been tied to the Ravens, you’d think he was still on the field getting in his reps.
It started with then-free-agent-now-Raven wide receiver Jeremy Maclin coming to Baltimore for a visit. While timing is truly everything, it just so happened that Smith Sr. was in town (we’ll get to those reasons shortly), and then this…
— Steve Smith Sr (@89SteveSmith) June 8, 2017
Indeed, Smith joined the Ravens Closing Crew in efforts to land Maclin, despite having no obligation to the franchise after retirement.
After a day’s visit, Maclin headed home to discuss his options with his wife, while Smitty remained in Baltimore to join a host of current and former Ravens for Lardarius Webb‘s Charity Softball Game.
Once again, Smitty had zero obligation to hang around Baltimore (or Aberdeen in this case), to participate in Webb’s event; however, he came out and had a… ball?
I’m sorry for that awful dad joke.
But still, Smith didn’t stop there with his contributions to his former team.
After an unfortunate torn Achilles in the first game of the 2016 Ravens season, Ravens TE Ben Watson finally made his way onto the practice field this week. Upon his return, Watson made mention of discussing his recovery and eventual return with a former Raven who experienced a similar Achilles injury at an… advanced age? Yea, let’s go with that phrasing.
Ben Watson said he has turned to Steve Smith for advice, encouragement about returning from an Achilles tear. "He's been a great resource"
— Bo Smolka (@bsmolka) June 13, 2017
Watson suffered his torn Achilles at the age of 35, while Smith suffered the same fate at the age of 36. Of course, we all know in Baltimore that Smitty returned the following season, racking up 70 receptions for 799 yards and finding paydirt five times in his swan song season.
If ANYBODY can be a valuable resource and voice of encouragement for a return from that Achilles? He’s your guy.
It speaks volumes that Smith Sr. is ready and willing to come back to Baltimore to help not only the Ravens organization, but also his former teammates, and more importantly, the city of Baltimore.
Once a Raven, ALWAYS a Raven, indeed.