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.