Veteran receiver Torrey Smith was released by the Carolina Panthers earlier this month, and instead of pursuing a new team to play with, he’s decided to move on to the next phase of his life.
‘I knew this day would come’
In a video posted on Uninterrupted, Smith reads a letter to football, thanking the sport for the many things it has provided him with over the years:
I knew this day would come. To be completely honest, I’ve been preparing for it my entire career. You and I both knew the game, for me, wouldn’t last forever. It’s the NFL circle of life, and I’m prepared for what’s next.
“As I look back, I can honest say that this 18-year journey with you has been life-changing. Full of ups and downs, laughter and tears, plenty of highs and lows. I’ve grown and learned so much because of you - I want to thank you personally for helping me become the man that I am today.
“From the very beginning, you were there for me. A safe haven for all that I was dealing with at home. I was just a young kid with big dreams - I didn’t know at the time that you would help pave the way for me to accomplish all of my goals. And for that, I’m forever grateful.
“Thank you for introducing me to a group of incredible men that I had the privilege of calling coaches, role models and father figures. These men showed me what it was to be a man, a husband, a father, and a man of faith. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
“Thank you for being my way out. You gave me the opportunity to earn a scholarship and two degrees. That’s something that can never be taken away from me. Being raised by a single mom and being the oldest of seven, there was no way I would have been able to afford college without you.
“Thank you for teaching me early on that nothing is guaranteed. Even when you have dozens of coaches knocking at your door, things can change so quickly. One injury, one mistake, one decision can change everything. Thank you for providing me the means to provide a better life for my family, for giving me the resources to break generational curses, for helping me set up a life where my kids can become all that they want to be without the struggles that I had to face.
“Thank you for trusting me with the responsibility of being a leader both on and off the field. My worth as a football player was never only about numbers. And if I was able to impact just one player, one kid, one person, I served my purpose.
“Thank you for my teammates, who have become brothers, mentors, and life-long friends. Y’all challenged me every day to become a better player and person, and I appreciate it.
“Football for me may have an expiration date, but the friendships and relationships that I formed over the years are forever... You watched me become a man, raise a family, and have been by my side through it all. You are appreciated.
“Lastly, thank you for the life-long lessons you’ve taught me. The importance of staying grounded throughout the highs and lows of the game, the importance of time, and taking advantage of every opportunity, because you never truly know when it will end. Thank you for teaching me the significance of hard work, dedication, patience and sacrifice. God put you in my life for a reason, and I’m sure it wasn’t about Xs and Os.
“Every catch, every drop, every win, every loss, every trade, every cut, all of it was part of my journey. But remember - football’s what I did, it’s not who I am.
“I’m looking forward to using the platform you’ve given me to continue to serve my true purpose; changing my community for the better. Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’ I’m blessed to be able to walk away from this game with most of my health, a clear mind, and a grateful heart. Can’t wait to begin the next phase of my life where my heart is and never left, Baltimore.
Two-time Super Bowl champion
It’s unclear what Smith will do in a return to Baltimore. Now 30-years-old, he tweeted last Sunday, “I get to watch football today with my kids like a normal dad. I’m actually looking forward to it.”
The Ravens chose him in the second round of the 2011 draft out of Maryland, and he played in all 64 regular-season games over the next four years. In 2012, one of his brothers died in a motorcycle accident hours before the Ravens’ Week 3 Monday night matchup against the New England Patriots.
In an emotional performance he dedicated to his brother, Smith had 127 receiving yards and two touchdowns in Baltimore’s 31-30 win.
The Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl that year, the first of two title-winning teams Smith was part of - in 2017 he started 17 total games for the Philadelphia Eagles, including Super Bowl LII.
More from Yahoo Sports: