One of the classiest and most talented players in the history of the Steelers franchise said his final farewell to the Steeler Nation on Sunday, March 11, 2012, with an advertisement in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It reads as follows:
Dear Steelers Fans,
As of today, I am no longer a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I leave the field and Steelers with no regrets, and am grateful to have played for such a tremendous organization. I feel truly blessed to have spent my entire professional career in the best town, playing for the most loyal fans who have loved and supported myself and my family.
The last 13 years of our lives have been special because of the people who cheered me on, and I am truly fortunate to have been a part of the Steelers, the City of Pittsburgh and the Steelers Nation. You have opened your arms and your hearts to us as a family and we will never forget that. Your support, enthusiasm, love and dedication are gifts I will carry with me my entire life.
I may no longer be on the Steelers active roster, but I will always be a Steeler and will never forget the people who made it all worthwhile — the fans, the Rooneys, the front office, the equipment guys and trainers, my teammates and family. Thank you for supporting me over the last 13 years, and I hope you will support me in whatever future path life will take me on.
We plan on making Pittsburgh our home and I will endeavor for the rest of my days to find a way to thank each and every one of you personally for all that you have done and meant for me and my family. You cheered for me for 13 years and now I cheer for you for the rest of my life. You will always be in my heart, thoughts and prayers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to have the job of a lifetime. You will always be in my heart.
Your friend always,
Aaron Smith and Family, No. 91
In typical Aaron Smith style, he went out as quietly as he entered the league 13 years ago when he was drafted in the 4th round out of Northern Colorado. No press conference, no ticker tape parade, he just walked quietly into the sunset after his 3rd consecutive injury plagued season forced the Steelers to release him. The ad in the Post Gazette said it all and then some, but it is we, the members of the Steeler Nation that should be thanking Aaron Smith for his years of dedicated service.
Smith was what I always like to call a “lunch bucket” player. Never one for speaking to the media unless he had too, he could also be counted on to not stir the pot with bulletin board material as much as he could be counted on give 100% every Sunday. The quiet but relentless defensive end was the model of efficiency in his prime, a complete reference on how to play his position in a 3-4 defense. Defensive Coordinator Dick Lebeau praised Smith as being a player who was virtually unblockable and someone who could diagnose an offensive play before the snap. Being a 4th round draft pick, nothing is guaranteed but Smith made his mark on the Steelers and the NFL with a great work ethic and team first attitude. He wasn’t the most talented or most heralded coming out of college but by the time that his career in Pittsburgh ended he more than proved his worth.
Another former Bill Cowher holdover sees his career come to an end, and like his teammates James Farrior and Hines Ward who were also released this offseason, we can feel privileged to have had the chance to watch his career.
Thank you for everything 91, your legacy is secure, enjoy your family and retirement wherever it leads you!
-The Steeler Nation
Below is a chart of Aaron Smith’s career stats in his 13 seasons with the Steelers.