(Steve Smith photo courtesy of Baltimore Ravens)
(Andrea Kremer photo courtesy of Andrea Kremer)
Talk of Fame Network
It’s Halloween weekend, so the guys take a look at some frightful things going on around the NFL and visit with one of the 21st century’s most productive wide receivers who, at 36, is sporting the mask of a 25-year-old.
Baltimore Ravens’ wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. insists this will be his final NFL season, but he’s not playing like a guy on the way out. His 588 receiving yards rank seventh in the NFL, and his 41 catches are 10th — numbers that are in keeping with a career that includes eight 1,000-yard seasons and a 2005 season like few others.
That season Smith became one of only three receivers in history to achieve the Triple Crown, leading the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Only Jerry Rice and Sterling Sharpe accomplished that feat, yet Smith does not care to compare himself with Rice. He’d rather just chase him.
“Jerry Rice is the best,’’ Smith told The Talk of Fame Network. “If he is, what can I do? Chase him, understanding I’ll never catch him. If you’re not chasing something, what is your purpose?’’
Smith’s purpose for 15 years has been to play both his best and his hardest, and no one would argue he hasn’t achieved both goals. Smith leads all active players in all-purpose yards, is about to pass Hall-of-Famer Cris Carter for 10th place all-time in receiving yards and seems a lock to reach 1,000 career catches by the end of what he says will be his final season. So why leave?
“The reason…has nothing to do with football,’’ Smith said. “You just kind of feel some things. Not sure why or where. I’m just coming to peace with things.
“I can still run. I can’t run 100 miles per hour … but I had a coach once who told me technique beats speed all the time. I understand my craft instead of just being out there running around. Anybody can run a go route.’’
Considering that position, when Smith looks at receivers his interest is not in their numbers or their speed. He looks at what he has always felt the job really is.
“Is he making that cornerback earn his paycheck?’’ Smith said when asked how he rates receivers.
Speaking of ratings, when asked about the toughest corners he’s ever faced, Smith didn’t hesitate. One name stood out, just as his does among pass catchers.
“Champ Bailey,’’ Smith said. “There was no part of the field he wouldn’t go. He did things defensive backs won’t do today.’’
Also joining the show is long-time NFL reporter and the NFL Network’s chief correspondent, Andrea Kremer, in the final installment of our month-long Women In the NFL series. Andrea recalls her early reporting days when she needed special permission to enter a locker room and says she never dreamed sports reporting would become her life after graduating from Penn and once performing with the Philadelphia Civic Ballet Company.
“At ballet rehearsal I’d be listening to the Eagles games on headphones,’’ Kremer said. “I loved football since I was eight. I’ve loved football my whole life but I never thought I could write or talk about it.’’
Well, she has for 33 years now, having been dubbed “the best TV interviewer in the business of covering the NFL’’ by the Los Angeles Times. She also has been named one of the 10 greatest female sportscasters of all-time. Not a bad start to a career that, like Steve Smith’s, continues to prosper.
Hosts Rick Gosselin, Ron Borges and Clark Judge are Hall-of-Fame voters and have a combined 100-plus years covering the NFL. So when they take a hard look around the league they know what they’re seeing, and this week they see a Cowboys’ team in disarray after Greg Hardy made a sideline spectacle of himself without retribution from his bosses. But they also see a Carolina Panthers team with a 6-0 record – and a defense – that is no joke. If you don’t yet believe in the Panthers, these guys will tell you why you should.
Gosselin, our resident “Dr. Data,” again has the numbers to make clear the unfairness of how the schedule makers have been, forcing some teams to face three and even four teams coming off bye weeks while others face none. It’s an interesting point, and Rick has a suggestion how to level the scheduling playing field.
That and much more can be heard on over 80 radio stations around the country, by using the TuneIn app, via iTunes podcast or at talkoffamenetwork.com.