'Other' Steve Smith calls it a career at age 28
Smith burst onto the national scene as the "other" wide receiver at USC, where the spotlight was largely focused on fellow pass catcher Dwayne Jarrett. After entering the NFL as a second-round pick of the Giants, Smith retained the "other" tag, this time due to his name - there was already a Pro Bowl wide receiver named Steve Smith playing for the Carolina Panthers.
The Giants' receiver did all he could to become the best Steve Smith in the league, reaching his full potential in 2009 as he caught 107 passes for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns in a Pro Bowl campaign. However, he managed to play in only nine games the following year before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
That knee injury ended up being the reason that the Giants let him head off to play for the division rival Philadelphia Eagles, and it ended up being the right decision on the Giants' part. Smith was never the same after undergoing microfracture knee surgery, and he caught just 25 passes over his final two seasons. He spent 2011 with the Eagles, and 2012 with the St. Louis Rams.
Smith signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in early April, but wasn't even a lock to make the final roster and was unlikely to be a significant contributor. Well aware that his best days were far behind him, Smith decided he was ready to begin life after football.
Many of us will remember Smith for his one great season with the Giants. His career is a reminder that athletes should take advantage of educational and financial opportunities while they can, because even the career of a 100+ catch receiver can come to a screeching halt.