Over the years, Steve Smith Sr. has established a trademark passion and intensity on the field no matter the time of year. That same trademark is one the Ravens are more than familiar with, dating back to Ray Lewis’ days on the field. The legendary Raven exemplified that same trademark of passion. Lewis was known for his sometimes unorthodox intensity, whether in practices, games or even post game press conferences.
Maybe it’s a good thing that the Ravens are inheriting those same characteristics, if not slightly different, from Steve Smith Sr.
Which brings us to an interesting question: Who was a more intense athlete?
It’s no question that the word “intensity” is one of the first things that comes to mind when Ray Lewis pops into discussion. At the same time, it is more than possible Carolina fans see flashes of Steve Smith Sr. wreaking havoc on defenses when “intensity” comes to mind.
If memory serves correct, at times, wasn’t it an age-37 Ray Lewis who singlehandedly motivated his team victory? Matter of fact, traveling back in time to the 2012 postseason, it was Ray Lewis who announced his retirement to the world, and more importantly his teammates. It was after that announcement that his team — especially the defense — rallied around him for one last push at a Super Bowl ring.
In the divisional round of the 2012 Playoffs, the Ravens faced a young Indianapolis Colts team. Most people probably weren’t surprised to see them defend their home field, what with Ray Lewis’ last home game in jeopardy. Oh, not to mention his famous out-of-the-tunnel shimmy. However, it was the next few games that showed how contagious Ray’s intensity was.
The Ravens’ epic journey to a Super Bowl in 2012 wasn’t all the product of chance or luck; it had a lot to do with Ray Lewis’ trademark. That passion and intensity. There was something about it that the rest of his teammates were able to take hold of for that final hurrah.
That’s a pretty tough act to follow, right? A guy like Steve Smith Sr. might disagree.
During his time as a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers, he saw some disappointing seasons. However, there was something inside of him that enabled him to push himself and his teammates during those tough circumstances. Maybe it was his trademark passion and intensity. It’s possible that passion and intensity helped nudge the Carolina Panthers back to winning football in 2013. After all, we’re talking about a guy who not only has an intense demeanor as a leader, but who also carries that “first person to arrive, last to leave” mentality.
When Smith was in Carolina (before the Sr.), he was renowned for his ability to treat the offseason as if it were in-season. He did this by going hard during OTAs, not missing a beat in minicamps, playing his heart out in preseason games and exemplifying that same level of hard work and dedication throughout the season.
At the age of 35, it appears that hasn’t changed a bit for Smith Sr.. The Ravens may only be a few weeks into minicamp, but Smith hasn’t sat out yet. Whether it’s been OTAs, workouts or drills, Smith has been present through it all — and intense.
In the end, the comparison between Smith and Lewis may not be the most important issue here.
With Ray gone from the game of football and Smith Sr. still trying to add the finishing touches to his career, the bigger question is: what will Smith’s trademark intensity and passion do for a Ravens team that has gone through a full-on makeover since their 2012 Lombardi?
Ray Lewis and what he brought to the game of football will obviously never be forgotten or duplicated. But right now, it’s Smith Sr. who will be under the microscope this season as spectators and analysts look closely to see if his trademark passion and intensity raise the Ravens’ level of the play. It looks like that is the bigger issue at hand. For the moment, at least.