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Steve Smith to Honor Family, Friends with Cleats in Week 17 vs. Bengals

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2016

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 18: Wide receiver Steve Smith #89 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on prior to a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at M&T Bank Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. is expected to call it a career following his team's Week 17 meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals, and the 37-year-old revealed he plans to honor his friends and family with some special cleats in his final game.   

On Friday, Smith posted a picture of the kicks—which feature names like former Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme, ex-Panthers general manager Marty Hurney, former Panthers wide receiver Ricky Proehl, the two franchises he suited up for and his grandmother, among others: 

Steve Smith Sr @89SteveSmith

Decided to honor some folks that have been in my life thru the yrs good & bad football & non football! My thank you 2 U. My cleats 4 Sunday https://t.co/nFO6qOs29J

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Smith tipped his hand and disclosed he's likely to retire once curtains close on the Ravens' 2016 season, according to ProFootballTalk.com's Michael David Smith

I’m about 89 percent sure. I'm pretty sure I know what I want to do. I've got great support from my family, my wife supports me whichever way I want to go. My boys want me to still play, but there’s a little girl, my baby who wants her daddy. Football is a conduit, something that gives you a platform, good and bad, but it gives you an opportunity. Football has given me more than I probably could give football back. . . . This is probably my last game.

Smith has been one of the NFL's premier competitors since he debuted for the Panthers in 2001, and the former third-round draft pick has blown away expectations over the course of his storied career. 

Although he never captured a Vince Lombardi Trophy, Smith earned five Pro Bowl nods, two Associated Press First-Team All-NFL honors and the league's 2005 Comeback Player of the Year Award. 

Furthermore, Smith ranks seventh on the NFL's all-time receiving list with 14,697 yards, while his 81 receiving scores are good for 25th in league history. 

And considering Smith's career could have been over a year ago, when he suffered a ruptured Achilles, the fact that he was able to return to the Ravens and continue to churn out more than 10 yards per catch while operating as one of quarterback Joe Flacco's primary targets speaks volumes about his competitive spirit. 

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