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Aaron Smith thanks Pittsburgh, in style

aaron_smith_120971774 Getty Images

Aaron Smith, a fixture in the Steelers 3-4 defense since 1999, was recently cut by the team.  He thanks the city of Pittsburgh and all Steelers fans via a full-page ad in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Here’s the text of the letter.

“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.”

Smith doesn’t specifically say that he has decided to retire, but the message comes through fairly clearly.

After playing most of the team’s games from 2000 through 2008, injuries have limited Smith to five appearances in 2009, six in 2010, and four in 2011.  He arguably is one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in NFL history, but since his primary job was to tie up blockers so that linebackers could get the tackles, sacks, and glory, he didn’t get an overabundance of any of those things.

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39 Responses to “Aaron Smith thanks Pittsburgh, in style”
  1. Chairman Al says: Mar 11, 2012 4:08 PM

    Classy move.

  2. raylewis52 says: Mar 11, 2012 4:09 PM

    Hate the Steelers with every fiber of my being. But this is classy. Todd Heap did something similar too.

  3. 7thlombardiontheway says: Mar 11, 2012 4:15 PM

    WOOOO SIX RING NATION STAND UP! Jealous?

  4. willisaldon9952 says: Mar 11, 2012 4:17 PM

    Beast!

  5. hpac1337 says: Mar 11, 2012 4:18 PM

    Browns fan here who hates the Steelers with a passion… that being said, I give credit where credit is due. Props for doing it with class.

  6. FinFan68 says: Mar 11, 2012 4:18 PM

    Bravo. More players should be like this.

  7. raqaiw says: Mar 11, 2012 4:21 PM

    One of the main reasons their run d has been so good. Age catches up with everyone eventually though.

  8. redguy12588 says: Mar 11, 2012 4:27 PM

    This actually teared me up a bit. Thank you Aaron, it was a pleasure to cheer you on.

  9. Stiller43 says: Mar 11, 2012 4:29 PM

    One of the biggest parts of the steelers success for the last decade. Very classy move from a classy guy.

  10. mataug says: Mar 11, 2012 4:29 PM

    3-4 defensive ends never get the press but w/o these guys, the whole scheme would be rubbish. Great read. Thanks.

  11. arizonahusker says: Mar 11, 2012 4:30 PM

    Unblockable during his hey day.

  12. EJ says: Mar 11, 2012 4:31 PM

    Note to Rodger Goodell: This is how every NFL player should carry themselves. Players like Aaron Smith should be rewarded for showing the rest of the league how to act. The NFL needs more role models like Smith and less of the Vick and plaxico type.

  13. Mary Jane says: Mar 11, 2012 4:36 PM

    I love that football players are becoming known for doing the right thing.

  14. wtf2812 says: Mar 11, 2012 4:44 PM

    A truly great Steeler. More important, a great man. Thank you, Aaron Smith.

    As a Steeler fan, I can tell you that you owe me no thanks. Having the chance to watch you play and see how you carried yourself for 13 years is more than any fan could ask for.

    Really, Steelers fans should be thanking you!

    God bless you with your “life’s work.”

  15. bigtimepackfan says: Mar 11, 2012 4:50 PM

    that was nothing short of class. why cant more players act with class and dignity? not a steelers fan but the man has my respect for taking the time to thank the fans and the organization.

  16. stavreafavre says: Mar 11, 2012 4:53 PM

    If ol’ #4 had done something like this he’d have a lot more fans left in Wisconsin. Class and lack of same always comes through.

  17. ufullpj says: Mar 11, 2012 5:01 PM

    Aaron Kampman did something similar when he left Green Bay. Pure class. The Steelers are a class organization, and Aaron Smith represented them with class, passion, and dedication as well.

  18. thingamajig says: Mar 11, 2012 5:26 PM

    I’ll be waiting for Rex to do something similar when he leaves the Jets.

  19. southpaw2k says: Mar 11, 2012 5:29 PM

    My anti-Steelers bias aside, I give big props to Aaron Smith for giving Steelers fans and the Rooneys a heartfelt letter of appreciation. I hope other players will learn from Smith’s example here.

  20. jus10jonez says: Mar 11, 2012 5:52 PM

    Since I was a little boy, I’ve hated the steelers with a passion but that has to be the classiest man in all of football. He didn’t get an exit conference like Peyton, he just got notified and still walked out like he the true champion he is. Way to go Mr Smith, way to go.

  21. blitzburgh43 says: Mar 11, 2012 5:58 PM

    Missing from this story is the fact that during the Steelers run for Superbowl XLIII, Aaron’s young sone was battling cancer and this man never missed a game. He has the respect of his teammates, coaches and fans for all he has given to Pittsburgh over the years.

    Best of luck to Aaron, Jamie and kids for a long and prosperous life.

    Thank YOU, Aaron.

  22. jstwnbby1 says: Mar 11, 2012 6:16 PM

    Classy guy, but one of the most overrated players that never played. Oh yeh, he did play for a couple of years when he was healthy but all the publicity on this guy is overkill. I’m glad he’s done. Tired of hearing about a player that did so little.

  23. johntonioholmes says: Mar 11, 2012 6:50 PM

    jstwnbby1

    He’s been a staple on the most stout run defense of the last decade, and he’s made one pro-bowl.

    It’s actually impossible for him to be overrated.

    Belichick called him one of the best 3-4 ends he’s ever seen.

    The only thing you know more about than Belichick does is how to stick your rod in the tampon dispensers at truck stops and brag to your friends that you got some action.

    Smith is undoubtedly the best 3-4 end of his era, and probably top 3 all-time. Next time, watch the game, instead of smelling your fingers.

  24. Deb says: Mar 11, 2012 6:55 PM

    Hard to find words to express how much Aaron Smith has meant to the team and to fans throughout his career. Losing him to injury was as costly, if not moreso, than losing Polamalu. He didn’t earn the accolades, but those of us who understand how the game is played know what he brought to the field and how he allowed others to shine. Not only his play, but his team-first attitude, will be terribly missed.

    Thank you for the classy farewell, Aaron. Best of luck! Steelers fans will never forget!

  25. melikefootball says: Mar 11, 2012 7:04 PM

    Smith indured a lot while in Pittsburgh and the fan base applauded him. He was a ready player in each game and gave it his all. He will be missed by all Steeler fans. The best to Aaron and his family.

  26. kismyanus says: Mar 11, 2012 7:19 PM

    Classy guy! I dont know how he stomached the Steelers for so long.

  27. dissapointmentprone says: Mar 11, 2012 7:28 PM

    Take note Vilma

  28. cbass59 says: Mar 11, 2012 7:31 PM

    One of the most underrated players of all time. Definitely the best Steeler DE since they went to the 3-4. Prob one of the best 3-4 DE’s in NFL history. It’s tough to get recognized when your job is to free up the LBs for sacks. Smith was the key to the Steelers top rushing D in the last decade and he was drafted from a D2 college (ala Joe Greene).

    Thank you Aaron Smith.

  29. jaxdolfan says: Mar 11, 2012 7:39 PM

    Total class act. I hope he sells a lot of insurance now.

  30. cup1981 says: Mar 11, 2012 8:21 PM

    Classy as always, Aaron. This guy is the example that every NFL player should strive to achieve. He came to work, did his job at a high level and kept himself out of trouble.

    I will not only miss him as a player, but seeing his interviews was always a gas. The guy would constantly crack jokes, especially when his two side kicks (Hampton and Keisel) were with him or nearby.

  31. warpigz says: Mar 11, 2012 9:47 PM

    I’ve been a Steelers fan for over 35 years, and Aaron Smith is one of my all time favorite players. He quietly dominated for 13 yrs, while amazing his teammates, coaches and his fans, and then, on his way out, HE thanks US! What a guy… We will miss you Aaron!

  32. modellforprez says: Mar 11, 2012 10:21 PM

    Im taking out a nbc sport talk page to thank aaron smith for 13 yrs of some of the best play at his position ever. you will be greatly missed on and off field 91. our city has had so many greats from honus wagner lemieux bettis marino and he’s right up there class act aaron thank you sir.

  33. gadgetdawg says: Mar 11, 2012 11:13 PM

    It is nice to see a player remember that football is supposed to be about the fans. Excellent job Aaron, best to you in whatever you pursue next.

  34. libradad53 says: Mar 12, 2012 12:14 AM

    Now this was a class act. A true sportsman and a classy classy, humble letter of gratitude and thanks. (Which some of the commentators here could learn from.) I would hope and expect to see him on the sideline some day, more than likely as a Steeler.
    I wish more of our athletes would take this rout.

  35. kaf39 says: Mar 12, 2012 10:10 AM

    simply awesome.

  36. keiselsbeard says: Mar 12, 2012 1:14 PM

    Thank you, Aaron Smith, the best 3-4 end to ever put on a helmet. God bless you and your family. The Steelers Nation will love you forever.

  37. erniecohen says: Mar 13, 2012 2:28 PM

    What bugs me is, if he is indeed retiring, why didn’t they have him do that instead of releasing him? I think this reflects badly on the organization.

  38. sudz28 says: Mar 14, 2012 6:01 AM

    Pure class from a humble great one. Best of luck in all your future endeavors Aaron, and thanks for 13 great years.

    Why can’t more athletes show this kind of class and integrity?

  39. steel2372 says: Mar 14, 2012 6:14 PM

    Simply put a class act guy!! You are the best and We thank you for your years of hardwork and dedication. You make Steelers Nation proud. Just want to say Thank you !

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